Coronavirus weighs heavily on everyone’s mind right now, and we need each other more than ever to get through this unimaginable global crisis. I am so deeply grateful to our faculty who are working so hard to get new instructional modalities up and running to keep the spring semester going. And so many thanks to so many great staff leaders, particularly Health Services Director Dr. Jacqueline Newsome-Williams who has been tireless in helping everyone stay healthy, assess risks and be assured of good health in these troubled times.
We are deeply concerned for you, our students and want to know what’s on your minds as we go through this strange era together. For that purpose, we asked Trinity students to respond to a brief survey so that we could better understand student concerns about coronavirus and the support your may need as we go forward. This blog reports the general results of the survey conducted online on Monday, March 16, 2020. As of this writing we have 160 responses with 58% from CAS, 26% from NHP, and the remaining 14% from professional and graduate students in SPS, BGS and EDU. Here are the results so far:
|Making sure I don’t get the virus||80.63%|
|Finishing this semester successfully in my courses||73.13%|
|Keeping my family safe||62.50%|
|What happens to my grades if I can’t keep up with online coursework||53.13%|
|What will happen if I get sick||43.13%|
|Where I can get some emergency money if I need it||35.63%|
|Whether I will get paid||34.38%|
|Keeping my job or having reduced hours at work||33.75%|
|Where to get food and basic supplies if the stores run out||31.88%|
|Whether Metro is safe/reliable right now||29.38%|
|Caring for sick/elderly relatives during this crisis||25.63%|
|Whether my health insurance is adequate for this crisis||25.00%|
|Where to get coronavirus testing||21.88%|
|Getting to graduation this semester||15.00%|
|Having computer and internet access for my coursework||11.88%|
|Child care while schools are closed||11.25%|
|Delay in my plans for work after graduation or going to grad school||10.63%|
|Whether my internship will continue||10.00%|
|Whether I can get a refund if I choose to leave school now||9.38%|
|Making sure my children keep learning while schools are closed||8.75%|
|Whether I can stay in my room in the residence hall||6.88%|
|Whether I can study abroad this summer||3.75%|
Students provided many additional comments raising important issues for us to address. I am responding to the top comments here and we are also providing individual answers for those students who gave us their contact information. Here are the top six comments and our answers:
Concern #1: I don’t think I can do well with online instruction.
You are not alone, many students have this concern and also concerns about not having computers or internet access at home. Our faculty is quite sensitive to this issue, and they are making every effort to provide what we are calling “alternative instructional formats” that do require using some online tools like the Moodle websites that you should be familiar with, but that also provide opportunities for other kinds of teaching and learning — analyzing films, writing critiques from reading assignments, conducting research and other hands-on learning. Many faculty will use Google Meet to have classes meet by video conferencing that is accessible on your phones. Please go to the Moodle websites for each of your courses — if you do not know how to do that already, please let us know on email (my email is email@example.com and I will put you in touch with the right help) — and follow the instructions. We are keeping the Library open for some hours each day so that you can access the computers and wifi there, and Main Hall is also open and the computers here are also available.
We are deeply committed to making sure that every student finishes the Spring 2020 semester successfully. We know it’s stressful and that you will have to learn some new ways of learning — even as our faculty are learning new ways of teaching! Learning to adapt, to remain flexible, to learn new skills you once thought impossible, to cope with unforseen circumstances are among the most important life skills you can acquire — this is a big learning moment for all of us. Let’s approach it with creativity, imagination and resilience… we can do this! YOU can do this — stay connected, follow directions and please let us know whenever you have questions or concerns as the process moves forward.
Concern #2: I am a resident student and I want to stay in my room; will I have to leave?
No, we are committed to keeping our residence halls open for our resident students through the end of this semester. You may certainly stay, but know that there are some changes that you will encounter. We are working with Food Service to be sure that meals continue without interruption, and Housekeeping and Facilties will continue with the extra cleaning required at this time.
Concern #3: I don’t want to come back to Trinity’s campus this semester.
We have not yet made a decision about classes resuming on campus or remaining in alternative delivery formats after March 27, but we will do so probably by the end of this week and we will let you know in plenty of time. We will be gathering input from faculty about how it goes during this early phase, and I am sure the faculty will be responsive to student questions and concerns about this. So, stay tuned…..
If you are a resident student who wants to move out of residence, please contact VP Student Affairs Dr. Karen Gerlach who will help you with making plans to close up your room and getting a refund for the balance of the semester. If you have been away on spring break and want to remain where you are right now, don’t worry, we will be sure your belongings here are safe and Dr. Gerlach will work with you on a plan for moving out later on when it’s good to travel.
Concern #4: What is going to happen to my internship, fieldwork or clinicals?
Provost Ocampo, the academic deans and faculty in programs that have internships, fieldwork and clinicals are all putting plans in place to address your concerns about these issues. We will have alternative ways of completing the credits. Nursing is in contact with the DC Board of Nursing about alternatives for nursing clinicals, and similar talks are underway about alternatives for Occupational Therapy, Counseling, Teacher Education and other professional fields where the clinical instruction is part of licensure.
Concern #5: Will we have graduation?
YES, we will most certainly have graduation for the Class of 2020 — but it’s possible that we will have to move the date. It’s too early to know as of this writing, though the Centers for Disease Control are now recommending at least an 8-week setback for any events of more than 50 people. We will be making a decision about commencement in the next several weeks since we know it’s so important for you and your families…. but rest assured, our plan is to have commencement even if we have to move it back a few weeks.
We may need to change some other events as well, we are looking at the schedule after April 1 and will be making decisions about various events very soon. Some of those events may become “virtual” opportunities. We have already cancelled all spring sports for our athletics teams, alas, and other events that were slated to occur in March are cancelled or postponed.
Concern #6: I may be out of work, or need additional food or emergency funds, can Trinity help?
Absolutely! We are here for you. Thanks to some very generous benefactors, the food pantry is well-stocked, and we also have an emergency fund that makes small grants to help students through rough spots. Please contact Dr. Karen Gerlach if you would like to know more about these sources of assistance.
If you need help with a tuition payment or other Trinity expenses, please let us know and we will work with you on an individualized plan.
You raised many other good issues on the student survey and we are continuing to review the responses and will post more answers to your questions on this blog, so check back each day for more information.
And, as always, please feel free to contact me directly, best way to get me is on email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please stay safe and healthy, and pray that this crisis ends soon.