Dear East Georgia State College Faculty and Staff,
Last week, I asked for your leadership in communicating with our students about COVID-19. I am back with this same request this week. I was thinking. All of this “stuff” (like seating arrangements) will be ineffective reminded about the importance of your leadership in this area over and over on Saturday as a small group toured campus and reviewed the covid-19 preparations in place. I kept if our faculty and staff are unable to communicate its importance to students. So, once again, please help me communicate with our students about this.
Here is what I wrote to the students today:
“On Saturday, a number of key college leaders and I made a tour of the Swainsboro campus to review the status of our preparations for a safe and healthy campus this fall. The tour took us about 8 hours because the preparations have been so extensive. The following are a few of my observations:
- Hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. They are located in many convenient spots in every building. Please get into the habit of using them regularly.
- Plexiglass shields are located in many frequently visited places (the main desk in the library is one example). Since we will all be wearing protective face coverings inside, I find that you have to get used to the fact that it may be a little harder to communicate with the person on the other side of the shield than usual. We will all need to be patient with one another and, sometimes, repeat what we say.
- Seating areas have been rearranged to provide appropriate social distancing. This means that we are going to be limited to one person per couch and one person at each small table. It is going to be a challenging to get used to not just sitting down on a couch and having a conversation with the other person already on the couch. Perhaps even harder, it will be hard to get used to not rearranging the furniture. But, it is really important not to do that. Maintaining appropriate social distances is a key factor in allowing all of us to remain healthy this fall and allowing us to safely enjoy the company of others.
- Classroom and auditorium seating. The number of available seats in each space is going to be reduced substantially. For example, a particular classroom with 30 seats may now not be able to handle more than 10 people at any one time. This means your classes will often have combination of face-to-face days and online days. For example, you may go to a particular class one day each week and attend via your computer or mobile device two days each week (synchronously). We will be reaching out to you to let you know your schedules for each class (i.e., which specific days you attend in person and which specific days you participate synchronously online).
- Important signage. There are many new signs designed to keep us all safe. As you know well, signs are often easy to ignore. For example, the highway sign that says “bridge ices before road” is so common that I simply don’t notice it anymore. But these new covid-19 signs on campus are really important. Just like slowing down before the icy bridge, these covid-19 signs are intended to help us develop new habits so that stay safe and healthy. Since kindergarten, we have all been taught how to form lines and I find it hard to remember not to walk up and stand immediately behind the person ahead of me. But I must break that habit; and the signs are there to remind me. Please pay attention to these signs.
- Protective face coverings. Please remember to think about your protective face covering and your cell phone as indispensable parts of your daily carry. When we forget our phones, we all experience a quick surge of panic. We should have a similar reaction when we realize that we forgot our face covering (because we need to put it on every time we go inside a building). It should become automatic --- just like driving on the right side of the road is automatic. We don’t resist driving on the right side of the road just because it’s a rule. We do it because we know that it will keep us from injuring another person or ourselves. The same is true of your protective face covering, Put it on automatically so that you and your Bobcat family will be safe.
Let’s all be honest with each other about these signs and furniture arranging and other details. These details are not nearly as important as the high level of responsibility which each of us has to our Bobcat family this fall. All the signs, and shields, hand sanitizer and face coverings you can imagine pale in comparison with a strong sense of personal responsibility. I am responsible to keep you safe during this pandemic. You are responsible to keep me safe. Deal?”
Please stay healthy and safe.
East Georgia State College