COVID-19 – surviving and thriving during a pandemic
Dear Fellow Albrightians,
Here we are, at the third day of virtual classes, almost one week since the Pennsylvania governor declared all non-life-sustaining business to close operations. Since then, I’ve watched faculty come together to support virtual teaching, student groups self-organize into study and “keeping in touch” groups, staff develop approaches to work from home, and trustees engage in our call to reach out to senators to support higher education in the COVID-19 bill that the US Senate passed last night.
What I’ve learned is that, like the strong community we are, we are coming together to meet this challenge. And, even though we miss the face-to-face interactions, I know we will come out on the other side a stronger community than when we started.
In this past week, I’ve realized even more how valuable our community is, one of which I am so grateful to be a part. I’d like to invite each one of you to reflect and think about how valuable our Albright community is.
To Albright Students: Give your professors positive feedback – let them know what works. Your professors love teaching you in the classroom! For many of them, this is their first foray into online teaching – and it’s not the way they want to teach. Teaching virtually is rarely perfect – from crashing videos, to sound not working, to pixelated screens – laugh with them, and thank them for their effort to help you continue your education.
To Albright Faculty: Some of your students are learning online for the first time – this is not what they came to Albright for either! For many, virtual learning may be much less compatible with the way they learn. Give them positive feedback for engaging online. Share with them things that you have learned that help other students.
To Albright Staff: Working from home is not easy – many of you have children, partners and pets who are also at home and you’re balancing your workload while making sure your children engage in their own online learning. Remember to breathe. Take the dog for a walk. Stay in daily contact with your teams and managers. Use technology to connect virtually and keep those “water cooler” conversations going.
To Essential Personnel: Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is not an easy time for anyone, and you are in jobs that require your continued service to and support of our students who are still in residence. Your dedication and commitment to our community is commendable. I invite everyone in our community to reach out to Albright’s essential personnel – in public safety, the Gable Health Center, the cafeteria, and those in facilities maintenance and custodial services – and thank them. Remember that not all heroes wear capes.
Everyone, please be diligent in observing the CDC’s recommendations and in keeping yourselves and your families healthy and well.
In the last several weeks, each of our lives have been upended – we’ve had disruptions to our classes, our work, and our learning. It seems like the continuous news cycle brings ever worsening news, heightening our anxieties and fears. We are currently living through a time much like the Great Depression and World War II – a crisis that will in many ways define a “before” and an “after.” Keep a journal of your time, your learning, your feelings, and your impressions – like the pandemic of 1918, this will be a time to be remembered in history.
As Albrightians – a pride of Lions – it is important to remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together and we will get through it together. Face-to-face interactions and a strong community are what we value at Albright College. As the pandemic prevents us from that experience, it becomes ever more important to build that community virtually. I will continue to be in contact with you during this time as will other community members, to inform you of operational details and to share words of encouragement – we could all use some words of encouragement as we navigate this situation together.
While we are living through circumstances unlike anything seen in generations, this too shall pass, and we will take from our experiences the strength we will use to heal our college, our society and our world. Continue your good and important work and learning – it matters.
Stay safe, healthy and well, and know that Albright College is there for you. I look forward to our return to campus and to our daily in-person interactions when this pandemic wanes.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ‘82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry