Northwest University and Coronavirus Disease 2019

Northwest University and Coronavirus Disease 2019

Posted: May 26, 2020

Dear Northwest University community member,

It has been about three weeks since I last communicated to you that we will be "open for business" in the fall, as scheduled, for residential education. Returning students have registered in amazing numbers for fall and we look forward to welcoming them back, along with our new first-year and transfer students. We have worked with diligence and creativity to figure out housing arrangements that will comply with guidance from the health authorities and Governor Inslee, and we have created a variety of options to deal with known and unknown "what-ifs." It's too early to share the details, as we don't want to get ahead of the facts, but I can say that there are some fun ideas in the mix. I know we will experience an incredible joy together as a community when we reconvene, and I can't wait.

In the meantime, last week we celebrated Ascension Day, on which the Church has historically remembered Christ's ascension to the right hand of the Father, where he continually makes intercession for us. Before he left his disciples, he said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Those words ring true to us as we "prepare rooms" to end our separation from dearly loved friends. As a Christian who longs for the return of Jesus, I can't help wondering why Jesus had to return to Heaven. Why didn't he just establish the Kingdom of God once and for all here on earth and stay with us and govern the nations with a rod of iron?

My answer is that he let the world continue as it is because our life here—our struggle—has value in God's sight:

  • Sickness, even pandemics
  • Personal development, mental health trials
  • Work and financial challenges
  • Suffering betrayal from others
  • Experiencing injustice or racial or ethnic prejudice
  • Losing someone to death

Jesus experienced all these things and more, suffering in every way as we do, and the Book of Hebrews says that our savior was made perfect through suffering. In the same way, our life on earth, lived in faith toward God—our struggle against all kinds of things—works perfection in us. God actually helps us by not making us perfect by just decreeing it. We need the deepening effect that comes from actually striving, actually suffering—an effect we cannot achieve in any other way. An example comes from marriage. When I married my wife Kathleen in 1983, I didn't see how it would be possible to love her more. But as the years go by, our shared experiences of joy and struggle have made my love for her grow deeper and deeper. Today's love greatly exceeds what we felt on our wedding day.

Here and now, in the midst of struggle, in the grip of a global pandemic, we might wonder if it is worth it all. In fact, if we are doing it ourselves—not leaning on God and learning to have greater faith and trust in him—it won't be worth it in the end. Trusting Christ as our Savior means that we are building a relationship with God that will last forever in eternity. That makes any level of suffering worthwhile, because it has eternal significance. What we are becoming will last forever.

Giving our hearts and lives to God does more than just "save our souls." It redeems our suffering and will make everything worthwhile.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. And coming back to school in the fall will be worth all of the struggle and effort and uncertainty and, yes, pain that it took us to get there. We look forward to seeing you and being together again.

Sincerely,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

 

Posted: May 1, 2020

Dear Northwest University community member,

I am happy to communicate today to our continuing students, entering first-year and transfer students, parents, alumni, and employees that Northwest University is meticulously planning to resume residential teaching and residence life on schedule this fall. Residential students, we look forward to welcoming you back to campus! We are also pleased to announce that all non-traditional and graduate programs will return to regular operation over the summer and into the fall.

No one can predict the future, but every student and parent should know we will be following all of the best practices recommended by public health authorities to make sure students remain as healthy at Northwest University as they would be anywhere else. Students, if God has called you to attend Northwest University, you can count on us to do everything in our power to facilitate your success.

We believe that government acted wisely in suspending many activities in order to "flatten the curve" of infections and protect our healthcare institutions from being overwhelmed. As society necessarily now shifts to policies designed to open up our economy and allow important life activities to resume, we firmly believe that a high-quality educational experience for our students remains a vital priority for their lives. So, we're going to open up and provide that education in this unique Christian learning community that we all love so much.

Here are our commitments to you:

  1. We will resume our educational programs in all delivery modes as they operated before the pandemic, with essential enhancements and adjustments to safeguard the health of students and employees.
  2. Our highly-professional staff and faculty will keep working to establish safeguards for health and make any needed adjustments to minimize coronavirus infections. Throughout the summer, they will make plans to ensure that campus life can continue with the high-quality interactions, activities, and classes everyone expects to enjoy.
  3. We will organize classrooms and schedules, as well as corporate worship and student development activities to allow for appropriate social distancing.
  4. Residence halls will re-open for new students as previously scheduled.
  5. Most employees will return to office work as soon as the State of Washington allows. We will take a case-by-case approach with employees who have special health risks.
  6. Most face-to-face classes will include a remote delivery option for students who cannot or should not be present on campus.
  7. All Financial Aid will continue as promised.
  8. A new task-force has begun to make contingency plans to prepare for potential disruptions in the fall.

So make your plans to continue your studies! These past few months have felt like a tag-team wrestling match. God has stood by you through everything this virus has thrown at you, and whenever you have started to weaken, God has tagged in and taken over. After all, God remains the undefeated world champion. I have been so proud of both online students and remotely-taught traditional students as you have stayed on task despite so many distractions. Whatever comes at us, we will stand confident of God's victory.

As I have said before, we, the people of Northwest University have "kept calm and carried on" for 86 years now. Through depressions and wars and epidemics and surprises of every kind—and surely no one thinks the past century has been easy—God has never failed. Neither have we failed to trust God and work hard and prevail. We're not going to change strategies now when the moment of truth has arrived. When this virus has come and gone, we will still be carrying the Call.

Sincerely,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: April 21, 2020

The timer on this semester keeps on ticking, and we get closer and closer to sticking a fork in it and calling it done. (I'm not sure which will give more satisfaction—sticking a fork in it or calling it done.) As you would expect, we have spent quite a bit of our energy on trying to discern what the Fall semester will look like.

We continue to closely monitor both the federal and state guidelines for returning the economy to normalcy. At this point, we don't have enough information to decide when that will occur across the country. It appears that the State of Washington will take a more deliberate, public-health-led approach than many others. Based on the federal Guidelines for Opening Up America Again (https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/) schools can reopen face-to-face classes at Phase 2. At this time, we can only guess when Phase 2 will begin for us. Over the next few weeks we will have many people working to develop contingency plans for all possible circumstances that fall may bring.

How we wish we were able to offer more certainty about all aspects of life at Northwest! But you may rest confident in the certainty that Northwest University will:

  1. continue to live out its identity as a College with the Soul of a Church;
  2. emphasize community life, relationships, and student development;
  3. strive to achieve the highest standards of academic quality;
  4. work with students to provide an affordable Christian education.

Stay tuned, and we will keep you fully informed as the situation emerges.

On a personal level, I'd like to invite you to follow my blog and my Facebook page. I will be ramping up my posting of spiritual reflections on those sites to offer encouragement to our community as well as the general public. Especially keep an eye out for my new short video series, "I Was Thinking."

Finally, we can't wait to have you back on campus! I suspect we'll even throw a big on-campus event for our online students when circumstances permit.

Sincerely,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: April 10, 2020

The university is closed for the Good Friday holiday, but since I didn't get all my work done yesterday, I'm happily typing on my laptop at home. I just told my grandchildren a home-made "Buster and Phillie" story about two imaginary children who closely resemble them and live near a wood like Watershed Park, which is just a couple of blocks from the university. I hope you are enjoying time with people you love today, and especially with The One who loves you most. I have two academic announcements that will affect many of you.

1. At the start of summer term, which comes as soon as April 27 for some programs, courses that are typically offered face-to-face (whether undergraduate or graduate) will be taught remotely. Whether these courses can shift to meeting face-to-face during the term will depend on many factors, including how late in the term social distancing restrictions are lifted over the summer.

2. Given the unusual circumstances of this semester, we have decided to extend the course withdrawal deadline for the Traditional Undergraduate program to Friday, April 24 at 5:00 PM (PST). This extended time will allow students the additional time to make an informed decision regarding their progress in their classes. Students will need to notify the Registrar's Office, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), with their request for a course withdrawal. While no refund is possible, students who for any reason have found it impossible to succeed in their classes will have an opportunity to withdraw.

I wish you a safe and peace-filled weekend as we remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and his glorious resurrection on Easter morning. I'll be preaching in Spanish in Ecuador via Facebook Live on Sunday morning, and I'll be talking about Jesus' words to Mary Magdalene in John 20:17: "Don't cling to me," Jesus said, "for I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Meeting Jesus changed Mary's life forever, and then his death did the same. When he appeared to her alive after the Resurrection, she thought things would go back to the way they were —sweet friendship in close proximity. But the Resurrection and ascension meant that things would never be the same again. "Don't cling to me," Jesus said, but rather "go and tell."

Many Christians —and for pretty much all churches —are realizing that COVID-19 means our relationship with Jesus will never be the same again. Perhaps before, many imagined that we could enjoy a close-but-private "personal relationship with Jesus" that we could pretty much keep to our ourselves. "Religion," as we have been told over and over, "is a private matter." But with the specter of death hanging over our world and the rising tide of fear, churches are forgetting about their four walls and sharing their faith online more vigorously than ever before! Individual Christians are sharing the reason for their hope more boldly also. I know I feel a new Gospel urgency in these times. Let's celebrate the "sure and certain hope of eternal life" this weekend, and share it with others!

Blessings,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: April 6, 2020

I am writing today just to encourage you to keep the faith in these challenging times. I am especially proud of our faculty and our students as they push through distractions and fears and disappointments and anxiety to finish their coursework for the semester. Many have returned home to face very difficult circumstances. Uncertainties abound, and some of the certainties present even greater challenges. Our society has never experienced a moment quite like this one, and having to remain isolated from one another only makes it harder. Many of us have friends or family members who have contracted the disease or have lost their battle with it. The situation our students face now will very likely be the most fearsome time they will ever face. It does no good to compare the sufferings of one time or place or person with those of another. Every person's suffering is REAL, and it's all hard.

In the face of it all, these are the times our faith is built for. Many of the earliest New Testament believers suffered or even gave their lives for their testimony of faith in Christ, carrying on in faith like the hallowed heroes of the Old Testament catalogued in Hebrews 11. John the Revelator saw trouble as an essential part of Christian faith: "I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God's Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us" (Revelation 1:9). True Christian faith shines brightest in hard times, and after 60 years of suffering and setbacks—and many victories—I can say it has never failed me.

Our alma mater calls out to God in song to "lead us forth to promised victory." It does not envision easy battles along the way. But whether the events of the day bring trials or tragedies or triumphs, we do it all in view of the certain victory of the Kingdom of God. Every win in the present is a taste of final victory later. Every hardship breaks the enchantment of this world and helps us turn our eyes to the Kingdom of Heaven.

I want students and their parents and our friends to know that the faculty and staff are working very hard across our scattered campus—that is, from hundreds of homes spread throughout the Puget Sound region. Not only are we binding up this broken semester as we march on to completion, we are doing many things to keep pressing on through the summer and preparing for the Fall semester. We are confident that better times will greet us soon. I read good news today that the Bloomberg research staff claims China's economy is almost back to normal. That report comes not only from the Chinese government, but from US and European manufacturers with facilities in China. Having suffered from this virus a couple of months before it reached Kirkland, China offers a very hopeful scenario for a "V-shaped economic recovery" after we get through this time of social distancing.

While we expect that many things will change in America because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some things will change at Northwest University, I firmly believe we will never stop being "a college with the soul of a church." We will never stop being a warm community that provides students with the intellectual and professional formation that will empower them for engagement with human need. We will remain the best place in the Northwest to prepare for a lifetime of work and faith and friendship.

We can't wait to see you again soon. In the meantime, I think we should start calling it "physical distancing." You aren't really "socially distant" as long as you're in touch. So stay in touch. I'll be constantly trying to do so on Facebook, on my President's Blog, and by occasional emails like this one.

Blessings,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 24, 2020

Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee gave the long-expected order for Washingtonians to "Stay at home, stay healthy" for the next 15 days, starting on Wednesday. The order does not affect Northwest University very much at this time, since we have already shut down all offices on campus and requested every employee to work at home if their job allows it. As permitted in the governor's order, essential personnel, such as security, maintenance, and food services and a few others, will continue to come to campus to do their work, but will observe appropriate social distancing rules.

Students, whether on campus or back in their family homes or elsewhere, should be diligent as well about practicing social distance. Our Christian testimony is at stake. When people see us fraternizing too closely, they see it as defiance of the authorities and reckless endangerment of our fellow citizens. You do not want to be interpreted that way. Please show others you care by following these guidelines.

The library remains open for student use, as I mentioned in a note to students yesterday, although we have closed it to the public. We have similarly closed campus fields and athletic courts to the public, but students who follow social distancing rules may use them. (The rules don't prohibit being within 6 feet of each other, but rather, extended closeness, i.e. more than 10 minutes.) A word to the wise is sufficient.

We will now stop sending daily updates, but we will keep in touch regularly. We enjoy an awesome community, and we want to keep it active. Thanks to so many who have sent such kind notes of encouragement to me and my team. The students and parents and board members and donors of Northwest University make me incredibly proud by their responses to this challenge.

Psalm 24:23–24 asks "Who may ascend to the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his Holy Place?" It answers, "The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in idols and never tells lies." That's a good word for today! So, wash your hands regularly for intervals of 20 seconds, and sing "The Doxology" or "Amazing Grace" or "Create in me a Clean Heart (Psalm 51)" while you do it. You'll keep your hands clean, and you'll also purify your heart. You can wash your hands too much, so put some lotion on them to remoisturize them. But you can't really purify your heart too much. Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" So don't trust in idols—especially not the idol of money or success. Don't make an idol out of the world as it was before. Let the idol of "yesterday" go. Trust in the God for whom all times are now, who is "an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). And most of all, don't lie. Especially don't lie to yourself. The past wasn't as great as you might imagine it, and the same God who was with us yesterday will be with us tomorrow. You absolutely can make it through the struggles of today and tomorrow.

Blessings,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 23, 2020

Psalm 90 offers wonderful perspective on this moment in our history. "Lord, through all generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God." The Psalm goes on to reflect on the brevity of life—"Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures." Our time on earth is not eternal, but God is our home, and he is eternal. In response to the stock market losses of the past month, one pastor on Facebook said this weekend, "If God is your everything, you still have everything!" Similarly, I was watching a Seinfeld episode, and when asked how he was doing, Jerry responded, "I've got my health!" He was humorously referring back to a famous Geritol commercial from the 1970s (I still chuckle when I think of Geritol.) The commercial said, "When you've got your health, you've got just about everything." I resolved to respond to every inquiry about how I was doing with "I've got God and my health. What more could I ask for."

Since we have everything we really need, here are some Northwest University updates:

  1. The University mailroom remains open, Monday through Friday, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:30–4:00 PM. You may enter the Barton building through the lower level southwest entry door with your card key.
  2. All other physical office spaces on campus are closed as of 5:00 PM today. Nevertheless, all university employees are working regular hours from home. If you do not know a particular office number, you can get to any employee through the university switchboard at (425) 822-8266, leaving a voicemail that will be routed to the appropriate office. You may also leave an email at info@northwestu.edu. Employees are getting paid to work, and they will be happy to assist you in a timely manner. Employees with keys may use them to access their offices if needed. Essential services like custodial, food service, maintenance and security will continue to function during this time.
  3. Students have largely moved out of the residence halls. We expect that about 40 of them will remain for the rest of the semester and possibly through the summer. We will be moving everyone into two residence halls and each person will have an individual room. We will then close all other dormitories and intensify cleaning/disinfecting efforts in the open building while beginning deep cleaning of the others.
  4. You can tune in for regular inspiration through our Online Chapel services, now scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:00 AM on our Instagram site @NUCampusMin and on the NU Devo App, which you can download on the Apple App Store or on the Google Play Store.

I once quipped at a Nursing pinning ceremony the Northwest University motto in Latin, vocationem dei gerite, means "take Geritol daily." It doesn't. It means "Carry the Call." During this time of sheltering at home, make sure you depend on a daily dose of God's call rather than the highly alcohol-laden Geritol or any other palliative substance (unless prescribed by your doctor!). Listen to God's call, and be sure to make a lot of calls on your own. Stay in close touch with the people God lays on your heart. Walk in tough sensitivity. "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."

Blessings,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 20, 2020

Yesterday I passed on to you a little folktale that I have heard my whole life which you can find on the Internet as well—the idea that the logo of the American Medical Association originated from the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. The story makes sense, but when doubt entered my mind later in the day, I discovered that the logo has Greek origins in "the rod of Asclepius." So I'm correcting myself today. As Mark Twain once quipped, "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so." The same is true in dealing with epidemics like COVID-19. We should be careful to base our actions on the facts as best we can discern them and stay current. Although the "facts" seem to be changing daily, we will still find the best course of action in following the advice of health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, even if some details of that advice keeps changing.

Here's the update for Northwest University today:

  1. Our approach to keeping the workflow going allows that everyone who can work from home should work from home. Most campus offices can be staffed remotely at this time. Nevertheless, we will maintain minimal staffing during office hours in the following places:
    • Barton Lobby receptionist
    • Student Financial Services Counter
    • International Education
    • Student Development
    • Library
    • IT/Mail Room
  2. Offices that function remotely will provide good signage in their office space with mobile numbers to call and outgoing voicemails that 1) provide a mobile number to call, and 2) promises to respond to voicemail quickly.
  3. We are closing buildings if all activities in them have been cancelled. Reducing the housekeeping footprint will allow our custodial staff to focus on high-traffic areas and carry out deep cleaning projects such as carpet cleaning and floor care. Persons who have keys to closed buildings may use them briefly for necessary work. The following buildings will be entirely closed:
    • The Kristi Brodin Pavilion
    • Millard Hall
    • Amundsen Hall and Butterfield Chapel
  4. Classrooms will be locked in:
    • Barton Building
    • Ness Academic Center
    • Argue HSC (labs will remain open)
    • Hurst Library basement
    • Davis Building
    • 6710 2nd floor classrooms
    • D Building – Community Room
  5. We want to remind students not to gather in groups larger than ten and to maintain the practice of social distancing. For some, the practice seems almost impossible to maintain. Obviously, family members don't all stay six feet apart, as parents cannot tend children that way, and other family relationships require close contact. Students often see their friends as closer than family, especially those who live in the residence halls. We fully understand the problem. But when meeting together in public, please maintain the social distancing guidelines.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and the weather on this Friday afternoon in Kirkland could not be better unless the New Creation were to burst upon us suddenly. Perfect blue skies and warmer weather and the beauty of campus all thrill us after such a long, gray winter. Expanding on a note I wrote to you a few days ago, I offer the following reflection on what Robert Browning wrote in the poem "Pippa Passes":

The year's at the spring,
and the day's at the morn.
Morning's at seven;
the hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world.

Citing this poem might seem out of place in the shadow of COVID-19. Browning was speaking ironically himself in view of the death of young Pippa juxtaposed with springtime, but in my view these verses perfectly describe the complete bliss that can fill our hearts for a moment in the beauty of springtime or the glory of summer or the awe of autumn or the wonder of winter, when our spirits feel the transcendence of nature and the perfection of God's presence. Through eyes of faith I see that the words of this poem (whether Browning believed them or not) tell the truth far more deeply than the shifting circumstances of trauma and tragedy and trouble. As my mother always said, "No matter how bad things get, they will get better." And in the end, by faith, I know that everything will reach perfection. New Creation will inexorably come. In view of that, I encourage you to make the most of the joy of spring.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 19, 2020

Yesterday, as my wife Kathleen and I took a walk through the neighborhood adjacent to the campus, we ran into College of Ministry student Bailey Snow and his wife Sami. They were going from house to house in the neighborhood, leaving papers announcing that a group of NU students from the apartments would gladly do errands, watch children, mow lawns, or offer any assistance needed at no charge. They just wanted to serve anxious people in the midst of this crisis. I couldn't imagine a better example of what I was writing about yesterday, and those who turn their attention to serving others will find a remarkable comfort.

Nevertheless, we do find ourselves in the middle of a stern reality.

  1. In view of the current status of the pandemic, we have decided that we have no choice but to close our traditional residence halls (Gray, Beatty, Guy, Perks, and Crowder Halls). We will attempt to keep the student apartments open throughout the remainder of the Spring semester. FIRS, duplex, and off-campus housing will continue as planned.
  2. As of today, if you can leave campus, you must do so. Refunds have been announced and are available to you.
  3. Students in residence halls who have no other housing options or cannot get to their homes must submit an Application for Continued Housing by Saturday, March 21 at 3:00 PM. The form will be distributed to all residents by the end of today. Campus residents who are presently staying off-campus will also need to remove all belongings and move out by March 29 in order to get a refund. If you presently are staying out of state or in a county with a shelter-in-place order and cannot come back to campus to officially move out by the March 29 deadline, please complete the Application for Continued Housing. This will be your mechanism for arranging for a refund.
  4. The Application for Continued Housing is due no later than Saturday, March 21. Student Development will process and notify all applicants of a decision by Monday, March 23. Everyone who is not granted an exception to remain on campus must leave the campus by end of day on Sunday, March 29. Please begin to make plans.
  5. We have asked professors to work with students and offer as much grace and mercy as possible. Students who are facing special challenges should communicate with their professors.
  6. Christian Dawson will be creating a livestream edition of Pursuit next Monday at the regular hour to provide students with a touchpoint and a worship opportunity. More details will come soon.
  7. We are aware of the new legislation on sick leave that was passed and signed into law yesterday. We think we have provided ample flexibility to our employees up to this point, and by end of today, you can be assured that we will be fully compliant with the law as to paid leave. No one should worry that their job or pay will be affected by being sick or dealing with family crisis due to COVID-19. We will work this problem out.
  8. According to the most recent reports from the CDC, 20% of hospitalizations have been people between the ages of 20 and 44 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm?s_cid=mm6912e2_w). Students must realize that they are vulnerable to this disease and can easily spread it to people in higher risk categories.

I realize this crisis has brought terrible disappointments to us all. Athletes had their season cancelled. Actors had a play cancelled right out from under them. Trips-of-a-lifetime were cancelled. The study abroad experience of international students ended abruptly. Some of our favorite traditions like Northwest Fest and Evening just ebbed away. People came back from Spring Break to say a final goodbye to the closest friends they've ever had in a single day. Many tears have rightly flowed. Commencement is postponed. And in all of this, classes press on, and some students feel they just can't concentrate on schoolwork. We feel your angst, and we wish we could do more to soothe it, but we must press on to the finish, and we can do it.

I am reminded of the scripture in Numbers 21:8-9 when the people of Israel were being attacked by poisonous snakes. God told Moses, to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten could "look at it and live." That snake become the logo of the American Medical Association and symbolizes medical care around the world. But Jesus compares that image to himself in John 3:14-16: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." In this crisis, do not fail to keep your eyes on Jesus. Take time to seek the comfort of the Scriptures. Find time to pray, and pray without ceasing. This is one of the best opportunities we have ever had to draw closer to God and receive God's strength. As Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." There is joy set before us, and the more we keep your eyes on it, the more it will penetrate into the now. May the joy of the Lord strengthen you as you go through the days ahead.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 18, 2020

I was reflecting in prayer today that Northwest University was born in crisis and does its best during a crisis. I once owned an old BMW, and the first time I put the pedal to the metal on it, I couldn't believe how smoothly it cruised at over 100 MPH. It was designed for the German autobahns. I never did that again, but I never forgot the potential my car had for some serious farfegnugen. In a similar way, Northwest University was born for times of trouble. Founded in the very trough of the Great Depression, our original students and professors knew what it felt like to defy scarcity with a flinty face of faith. World War II only made us stronger when Congress passed the GI Bill and our halls filled up with veterans. We met the disruptive revolution of the 1960s and 1970s with enthusiasm, as long-haired Jesus People flooded into our classrooms. When Y2K came along, we kept our cool and upped our technology game—in time for the DotCom Bust, out of which we bought our 6710 Building for a song (a commodity we have always, by the way, been adept at generating). The attacks of 9/11 and the wars that followed resulted in robust growth and development as diversity among our students and their career interests blossomed and a sleepy little Bible college learned to do and teach new things. Our God-given mission has always attracted the best people, and they have always let God lead them forth to promised victory.

All of us today at NU are the heirs of that Spirit. We don't fear crisis. We were born for crisis. we will press on in the months ahead to make sure that whatever comes, all of us will learn from it, roll into the changes, and come out better, stronger, more technologically empowered, and more confident of God's victory. We are like the Six Million Dollar Man in 1970s television—an incredible bargain in today's dollars—who was fitted with new arms and legs and even a new eye to "make him better than he was before, better, stronger, faster." Don't let anyone doubt you! You are powered by a Higher Power, and are always recalibrating to keep your engine humming and your steering sure. You're following the One who founded The Way. As the old song said, we don't know about tomorrow, but we know who holds our hand.

Now for today's updates:

  1. We have received word today that one of our graduate students tested positive for coronavirus. As you all know, testing has been delayed across the country, and even now it's hard to get tested, though it should get easier soon. The student seems to have turned the corner, but is still sick, so please do pray for a total and quick recovery. The university has already notified those who shared in the same activities together with the student. Deep cleaning is being applied to the student's regular stops on campus.
  2. As we get further and further from the departure of undergraduates for Spring Break and our transition to remote classes, it will become less and less necessary to notify everyone whenever a person connected with Northwest University gets infected with the new coronavirus. To guard people's privacy, we won't report on individual cases unless they require general notification.
  3. Students who live in campus housing and can go home, should go home. We will provide a refund to help. The less people we have living and dining on campus, the better hospitality we can provide for those who must remain.
  4. The Wellness Center is still providing counseling and its other customary health services via telehealth. We are grateful to federal and state governments that have waived regular standards to permit inter-state services. Contact the Wellness Center by email (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or phone (425) 889-5282.
  5. Commencement will not take place on May 9. We will soon poll the graduating students, exploring a potential date in August when the world should have already returned to normal. We will let you know about the new arrangements as soon as we can. We don't want to miss our chance to honor everyone who has worked so hard to achieve their degrees.

President Trump is rolling out a new program on the theme "15 Days to Slow the Spread." I encourage everyone to make the most of this time of prevention. These days are incredibly costly, so let's lean into maximizing their effect. The guidelines are available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf.

Finally, I want you to know that we at Northwest will be in regular contact with you over the months to come until normalcy returns. It will move away from what may have felt like a constant stream of advice and updates toward a continuous reassertion of our identity together in Christ and of our values and memories and hopes and plans for tomorrow. We've come through worse times than these, and we look forward to seeing how they will make us better.

Blessings,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 17, 2020

I have some good news for you.

  1. The student who tested positive for the novel coronavirus got tested on March 14 and is now feeling well. I did not receive word about the case until yesterday. The student has been quarantined since March 5 and it is very likely that anyone who might have been infected by that student would have already developed symptoms. The student did not live in the residence halls. Everyone who would likely have had contact with the student has been advised now, so if you haven't received an email, you should relax a little bit. Even so, it is best for all young people to keep a prudential distance from people in higher risk categories if they are not staying very close to home. None of us can know for certain that we have not just picked up the virus from a doorknob or some other surface or from someone we've been in close contact with.
  2. We are doing a deep cleaning of rooms where the student attended class, including rooms in Argue, Millard, and Rice. If anyone sees a housekeeping or maintenance person wearing personal protective equipment, including a mask, do not be alarmed that they may be sick or that there is a heightened sense of crisis. They are wearing the gear to protect themselves from extended exposure to the cleaning chemicals.
  3. We have decided to cancel all summer missions trips at this time in order to provide some relief from the uncertainty and free up cash that students were reserving for the trip. If students did fundraising to help with their trip expenses, I recommend asking donors for permission to pass the funds on as a donation to the ministry they were intended to bless. Missionaries will be facing shortages of funds just like we all will. We will continue to communicate about academic trips in a timely, strategic fashion. We expect to make final decisions about academic trips in April.
  4. We will announce specific refund amounts for room and board by the end of day tomorrow. That notice will go to students only rather than to the whole community.

I wish everyone great success in finishing the semester. Thanks for trying to understand our situation. I hope you perceive our heartfelt desire to be helpful. Finally, I'd like to share a short video devotional with you that I recorded yesterday here on campus. You can see it on YouTube.

Victory is ahead. Let's keep pressing toward it.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 16, 2020

America—and especially Washington State—has decided to fight back hard against COVID-19 to minimize its health impact on vulnerable people! That is a good and noble decision, and Northwest University is fully onboard with it. Unavoidably, this fight will require sacrifices from everyone. It is going to be very expensive, tightening everyone's personal budget and wreaking havoc on small businesses and institutions. But we trust in God to get us through this crisis, and we have decided to be as generous as we can with our people. When the virus has passed, we'll still have each other. Here are some updates:

  1. I just received word that we have our first confirmed case of novel coronavirus 2019 infection. One of our traditional undergraduate students tested positive for the virus. The good news is that the student has recovered and is feeling well. We cannot legally or ethically share the name of the student, but we are in the process now of informing everyone who shared a class or was a close associate of the student of their potential exposure. If you hear from us directly, you will receive instructions about what to do to safeguard your health. We will almost certainly have other cases over the following weeks and months, so let us pray that they will all resolve as well as this one has done. In general, you should self-quarantine if you have fever, cough, or shortness of breath or contact with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19. If you do self-quarantine, please notify the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282. If you are an employee, you must also notify your supervisor and the Senior Administrator over your area. If you are a student, you should notify all your professors.
  2. Students and parents are naturally asking whether Northwest University will offer refunds for room and board expenses. Yes, we will provide prorated refunds, and we will announce options soon. We want to be as generous as possible to our students.
  3. Despite the closure of restaurants for dine-in services in Washington yesterday, the cafeteria will continue to prepare take-out meals for students who remain on campus as Governor Inslee's order permits.

As I have mentioned before, social distancing does not come easily in our warm Christian culture. Everyone should understand by now that we are choosing social distancing as a measure to "flatten the curve" of the COVID-19 disease. In other words, instead of having a huge number of cases in a short time and thus overwhelming hospitals and costing many lives due to limited equipment and resources, we are trying to spread the cases out over a longer time, giving hospitals a better opportunity to treat victims with the greatest possible individual care. Social distancing will save the lives of many of our most vulnerable family members and friends. So let's not waste this very costly moment. When in public, try to stay 6 feet away from people (never staying closer for more than 10 minutes). Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm water and soap. Disinfect surfaces routinely. Live like you are on a mission from God to save the people around you, because that's what this is.

We will be communicating more details as they emerge.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 13, 2020

Today, Governor Jay Inslee announced that he would "restrict activities" at Washington colleges and universities, mandating that there should be no "in-person courses from March 17 until at least April 24." In view of his decision, I can announce the following updates:

  1. Class sessions for the remainder of this semester will be conducted remotely. Please note that I have avoided the use of the term "online." We are not moving classes to our online format, but rather professors will conduct face-to-face classes remotely.
  2. Except for nursing courses, we are suspending classes in the traditional undergraduate program this Monday, March 17, in order to give faculty and students an extra day to prepare for the new remote modality. Those classes will resume remotely as scheduled on Tuesday. All other classes (graduate, adult evening, and online) will continue as planned. This delay will also give students time to travel to their homes if they wish to do so on Monday. Nursing students should expect further information from Dean Bjorge.
  3. As previously announced, residence halls and the cafeteria will remain open for the rest of the term, unless health authorities indicate otherwise. We also have a plan to carry on serving our students if that occurs. We recognize that many students will chose to go home and move out of their residence hall or apartment. If you are a residential student, please be on the lookout for an email from housing and residence life staff with further instructions.

We deeply regret this situation of national emergency—something insurance providers would call an "act of God." While I absolutely don't believe God inflicted this pandemic on us, I am positive that he is in the midst of it, "working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). One of our fundamental truths at Northwest University is our duty to "carry the call" of God, and we can be sure that "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell [and certainly not COVID-19] can separate us from God's love…revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

God loves you, and we love you too. I'll be praying for the next time we can all safely meet together—every single one of us—and give each other big hugs.

In faith,

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 12, 2020

Greetings from a lonely campus! So much of the public discussion lately has been about "social distancing," and I can't think of anything more unnatural for the people of Northwest University. Our forte has always been the close relationships and social gatherings that makes Christian community thrive. While we urge everyone to listen closely to what the health authorities are saying about social distancing in terms of physical contact and personal space, at the same time I would urge everyone to stay in close contact with your friends and classmates on social media, text messaging, and (don't call me old) even telephone calls! Hebrews 10:24 encourages us not to give up the habit of meeting together, and even if we can't do that in terms of physical presence, we can stay in touch in other ways. We need each other at this time of uncertainty.

  1. Some students have asked why we aren't closing dorms and food service. Some of our students have no other place to go besides their residence hall room and no place to eat except the university cafeteria. We have a duty to serve them, and we plan to do so. Public Health—Seattle & King County has not asked universities to close their residence halls and cafeterias. If they should make that directive at some future time, we have a back-up plan to make sure everyone is housed and fed, but we believe keeping our residence halls and cafeteria open is the right course of action at the present time.
  2. We have also made arrangements with Clocktree, a HIPAA-compliant communications technology platform that will allow our staff to offer counseling to our students. If you are scheduled for counseling sessions, please check your email for more information. If you need to schedule a session, please call the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282 to get more information.
  3. Several students have asked about how they can be sure to fulfill their Spiritual Life Credit. As I hinted in an earlier communication, I want to announce plainly now that all students will be given full Spiritual Life Credit this semester. Campus Ministries staff will keep posting new material to www.northwestudevo.com and on the NU Devo App, which is available on the iTunes Store and on the Google Apps Store. Chapel services will return when face-to-face classes resume, and students will be asked to attend faithfully with the credit requirement suspended until fall semester.
  4. Classes will continue to meet remotely until further notice. Students should expect their classes to meet on Zoom at the same time and day as their normal schedule dictates.
  5. Our athletic conference has cancelled all intercollegiate competitions and games for the next two weeks as of March 12.
  6. Many Northwest University employees are working at home now with the permission of their supervisors. We want to encourage all employees to observe the social distancing practices recommended by the CDC, including remaining out of congregate settings (public places such as shopping centers, movie theatres, stadiums), avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of approximately 6 feet from others when possible (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html).

Keep washing your hands regularly, be serious about disease prevention, take care of the people around you, and don't lose your sense of humor. God is still on the throne, and normal lifestyles will return within a few months. Let's try to grow spiritually during this time of crisis so that when normalcy returns, we'll be better able than ever to make the most of it.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 11, 2020

While the campus is open, including residence halls, the cafeteria, and all university offices, students are not generally required to return to campus until face-to-face classes resume sometime after April 5. Many students may want to return to their homes after Spring Break, but all are welcome on campus. Student leaders and student workers should check with their supervisor about any changes to responsibilities and whether or not they can fulfill their responsibilities remotely.

We look forward to having everyone back on campus as soon as conditions permit. With so many away on Spring Break or working and studying from home, I can't help but reflect on how grateful I feel for every member of our community. I am continuing to pray for all of you, for everyone who is working, or studying, or traveling, for those who are with family, for those who are having fun and those who may be feeling ill, for those who are feeling lonely, and especially for anyone who feels anxious or worried or afraid. This situation will pass soon enough, and normalcy will return. To paraphrase the poet Robert Browning's poem, "Pippa's Spring," the time will soon come when we'll say, "God is in Heaven, and all's right with the world."

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 9, 2020

Our approach since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak has been to follow the directives of Public Health—Seattle & King County. Although a range of options remain acceptable, we will move all face-to-face classes (traditional undergraduate, Adult Evening, and graduate) to remote teaching as of today, March 9, 2020. We plan to resume face-to-face classes on April 6 if circumstances allow. We should hear from Public Health by March 31 about whether their guidance has changed.

Residence halls and food services will remain open as usual. University offices will remain open as well. Employees should check with their supervisors about whether they can work from home. The Senior Leadership Team will work with supervisors to determine which employees are eligible for telecommuting.

Students will receive instructions from each of their professors about how they will conduct classes. Students who become ill should inform their professors and the Wellness Center (wellnesscenter@northwestu.edu). If NU community members test positive for Novel Coronavirus 2019, they should notify the Wellness Center. We want to be able to offer the best possible service to anyone who needs special attention.

Our Commencement Exercises are scheduled for May 9. We will announce a decision about how we plan to follow through with honoring graduates as the situation emerges, keeping in mind that families would need time to make travel plans. Similarly, we will announce decisions about travel plans for student groups by the latter part of April.

We deeply lament the spread of COVID-19 and the loss of lives it has entailed. We are also sorry for the inconvenience it has brought to our students and employees. We will continue praying for our community and working to serve everyone well.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 5, 2020

We are set to begin Spring Break after tomorrow, so we will continue to follow our pattern of as-normal-as-possible operations through tomorrow. During the Break, we will carry out a thorough disinfection of the campus to bolster the efforts made to this point.

If you are leaving for Spring Break, we would recommend that you maintain a prudential distance (six feet) away from people over the age of 60, people who are pregnant, people who suffer chronic disease, or people who are immunocompromised. Healthy young people are at very little risk from COVID-19, but people in higher-risk categories are much more vulnerable. Since asymptomatic people may carry the virus, none of us knows for sure that we are safe to be in close contact with people at higher risk. Love expressed through a smile and sweet words counts just as much as a hug or a kiss, so be sure to tell people how you feel about them.

Enjoy Spring Break, and we'll be in touch late next week to bring you up to date on our plans for helping everyone succeed this semester. In the meantime, I'll be praying along these lines:

"God and Father of us all, I pray that you would bless all of the families of our Northwest University Community. Bless us with good health and freedom from disease. Instead of fear, may we be filled with gratitude. Instead of suspicion, let us overflow with faith. Instead of recklessness, help us act with sober caution and thoughtfulness. Bless us with sweet communication and love. Where there are conflicts, bring reconciliation. Comfort those in distress, heal those who are sick, restore those who are tired. We who are heavy laden come to you that you might give us your rest. We take your yoke upon us and draw close to you. And so we will find rest for our souls. Amen."

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 4, 2020

We have received new guidance today from Public Health—Seattle & King County, so I have new information for our community. Here is the content from their website at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/March/4-covid-recommendations.aspx:

Public Health is recommending, but not requiring, the following steps:

  • People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:
    • People 60 and older
    • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
    • People who have weakened immune systems
    • People who are pregnant
  • Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with COVID-19 and help minimize absenteeism due to illness.
  • If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.
  • Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Public Health will work with the school and the district to determine the best measures including potential closure of the school.
  • All people should not go out when they are sick.
  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.

More detail on these measures will be available at www.kingcounty.gov/covid.

In response to these recommendations, Northwest has adopted the following guidelines:

  1. The university is not closed.
  2. We follow Public Health—Seattle & King County in recommending but not requiring that students and employees fitting into any of the higher-risk categories should stay home and work or study from there.
  3. Employees should contact their supervisors for permission to work from home if they are at higher risk as defined above. Such employees will be automatically approved to work from home. (Faculty have already been trained to teach remotely, but they should let their supervisor know their plans). People working at home will be counted as present for work if they have been approved by their supervisors and will not need to report their time as sick leave.
  4. Employees of our outsourcing partners should contact their employer for guidance.
  5. Students should let their professors know if they will not attend class in order to be marked as present. They will be required to stay current with class assignments.
  6. Any employee who is sick should stay home and report their absence as sick time.
  7. We do not see any need to consider a staggering start or end time.
  8. Students on the cafeteria board plan who opt to stay in campus housing and need a to-go meal because of sickness can ask a friend or their RA to bring it to them on the disposable trays now available at the cafeteria. No identification card is required.

Spring Break starts on Friday night, so that will take off some of the pressure for a few days. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these difficult circumstances. Let's stay in prayer and live in faith. The more we stand together in love and kindness, the stronger we will be in the end. We will plan to celebrate the end of this situation once it all winds down.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 3, 2020

 

Posted: March 2, 2020

Thanks for staying up to date on our operations at Northwest University. We want to remind everyone that we are in regular contact with Public Health—Seattle & King County, sharing information and receiving guidelines. We will continue to base our practices on the direction of local and national health authorities. Here are today’s updates:

  1. Sports team trips next week to Uganda and Costa Rica, as well as the Choralons trip to Hawaii, will continue as planned. Students who, in consultation with parents, prefer to stay home are welcome to make that choice, although no refunds of travel expenses will be possible. Students who suffer from chronic disease or who are immunocompromised should stay home. For an excellent article on air quality on planes, see this NBC news article. Other student travel decisions will be made in a timely fashion over the coming weeks.
  2. Please be careful not to treat anyone with prejudice during this time of uncertainty. Ethnicity has nothing to do with exposure to the novel coronavirus 2019. According to the CDC, “People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html). Furthermore, people who choose to wear face masks are not more likely to be carriers of disease. Often a face mask simply indicates greater concern about catching a virus.
  3. Since it is cold, flu, and allergy season, many people in our community have cold or other respiratory symptoms and many people are choosing to play it safe. You should self-quarantine if you have fever, cough, and shortness of breath or contact with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19. If you do self-quarantine, please notify the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282. If you are an employee, you must also notify your supervisor and the Senior Administrator over your area. If you are a student, you should notify all your professors so they will not mark you absent from class. Professors have been advised to excuse absences of anyone who chooses to stay home sick for any kind of illness.
  4. Please call the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282 first rather than just showing up unannounced. They will want to prepare you with instructions to serve you best.
  5. If you are an employee and you need to stay home due to symptoms, report the time as sick leave. We will be generous in dealing with sick leave as the situation continues. Do not worry that you will run out of sick leave.
  6. We have created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list to include with every new update that summarizes the guidance we have offered recently. Keep reading to see today's version.

Once again, wash your hands frequently with soap and sing the Doxology while you do it to make sure you get in the full 20 seconds. We are praying for you, and our trust in God has never been stronger.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: March 1, 2020

Dear Northwest University Community,

Thank you for all of the positive responses we have received from yesterday’s communication about the COVID-2019. We want you to be well-informed about how the University will respond to the emerging situation, so we will be updating our website regularly as the situation emerges. We urge you to check in daily with our website (www.northwestu.edu).

  1. In an abundance of caution, we have decided to take temporary steps to reduce interpersonal contact on campus. Accordingly, we will cancel chapel services, select student activities, and close the Eagle Fitness Center through Spring Break. During that time, we will evaluate whether this measure needs to continue into the rest of the semester.
  2. The University will be in communication with and will carefully follow all directives of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health—Seattle & King County.
  3. In the event that a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs on the Northwest University campus, we will immediately inform the Public Health—Seattle & King County and follow their directives. If that were to occur, it is likely that classes would be temporarily suspended. Students would be encouraged to go home if possible. Students who choose to go home would be expected to fulfill all coursework requirements through remote study.
  4. Students who are experiencing the specific symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath) should call the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282, which will advise them about what to do and follow up with daily check-up calls to monitor their progress. If symptoms occur outside of the Wellness Center’s regular hours, students may call the 24-hour free nurse hotline at (425) 899-3000 for advice.
  5. Classes will continue to meet on campus for the time being. Faculty members are preparing for the possibility that classes will need to be taught remotely and will be ready to do so if necessary.
  6. We encourage everyone to stay current with the information available on the CDC’s website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) and/or Public Health—Seattle & King County (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus.aspx).

May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Posted: February 29, 2020

We received reports today of the first death in the United States from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and it occurred here in Kirkland at EvergreenHealth Medical Center. We have been tracking the disease carefully, and with its emergence in our own backyard, we must now address it very seriously.

The health and safety of every member of our community is always our highest priority, and we want to take every responsible step to counter the outbreak of disease. Here are some basic principles you should keep in mind while thinking about COVID-19:

  1. According to the New York Times, “Though the virus can be deadly, the vast majority of those infected so far have only mild symptoms and make full recoveries.”
  2. The disease can be fatal in perhaps 2% of cases, with older people and people with compromised immune systems being at greater risk. The person who died of the disease in Kirkland suffered from chronic illness.
  3. The virus does not always cause symptoms in people who have been infected, and some people can carry the virus for some time before showing symptoms. That means that it will be very hard to keep people from being infected. It would be an overreaction to cancel university classes until we have evidence of an outbreak of COVID-19 in our campus community.
  4. Unfortunately, the outbreak has now reached a global stage as well as a local one, so everyone must take this situation seriously.
  5. We absolutely care about the lives of every person in our community and want to do everything we can to ensure the best possible outcomes. We also do not want to live in fear and allow it to lead us to poor decisions.

In view of these perspectives, we recommend the following actions:

  1. Pray for God’s help to guide governments, agencies, institutions, families and individuals to act wisely and effectively to minimize exposure to the disease. Pray also for a divine intervention against the disease.
  2. Stay home if you have any symptoms of respiratory illness and avoid close contact with others. Professors will work with students who must self-quarantine to ensure that they can complete their classwork. If you are an employee, we will work with you to ensure you have enough sick leave. Don’t be a “hero” by coming to work—be a hero by staying home if you are sick.
  3. Wash your hands frequently (although not obsessively) for at least 20 seconds, especially after shaking hands with people. It takes about 20 seconds to sing the Doxology, so take advantage of the opportunity to praise God in the midst of this circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your coughs to avoid spreading the virus.
  5. Minimize physical contact with casual acquaintances, substituting a polite nod or other gesture instead of handshakes.
  6. Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you are needed as a caregiver to someone suffering from the disease, do not return to public activity until you are cleared by medical personnel to do so.

In the meantime, the University is preparing so that classes will be available online through Panopto or Zoom for remote participation in case any quarantines or shutdowns are necessary. We will ultimately be guided by the King County Health Department and other governmental agencies that have authority over public health. We encourage everyone to keep up to date on the disease at the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html) and King County Health Department (www.kingcounty.gov/covid). Do not be unduly alarmed by media hype, but compare any stories you may read with these official sites. The Wellness Center is also prepared to offer you any counseling or assistance you may need. Do not let this situation create undue stress in your life, since stress weakens the immune system and only makes you more vulnerable to infection. Help is available if you are suffering from stress.

Many have asked already what the university intends to do about student travel. For most trips, it is still very early to make a decision. We will be in touch in a timely fashion with each group that is scheduled for travel, and we will place the highest priority on health and safety.

Finally, I want to urge everyone to take this epidemic seriously and from a position of faith and confidence in God. Even in the case of a pandemic, it is very unlikely that anyone at Northwest University will die from this epidemic. We are Christians, and we do not live in fear, but rather in confidence that God has our future in his hands and will preserve our bodies, souls, and spirits unto eternal life.

Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University

 

Frequently Asked Questions

All decisions made about operations at Northwest University will be updated on this page daily so that our community will not have to comb through possibly outdated material spread throughout the regular update communiqués.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?

What is the difference between isolation, self-quarantine, and medical quarantine?

  • Medical Quarantine and Isolation are used for people who are currently ill and able to spread the disease and who need to stay away from others in order to avoid infecting them. People under medical quarantine are under the supervision of medical professionals in a hospital or being checked on by medical professionals in their homes.
  • Self-quarantine is for people who have no symptoms, but because there is a possibility that they might have been exposed, they stay away from others in public settings. For 14 days from their last possible exposure, people in self-quarantine cannot go to work, school, or any public places where they could have close contact with others. Public health departments direct them in how to monitor their health so that should they develop symptoms, they can be quickly and safely isolated from all others, including those in their household.

What if I am sick, but don't have the symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are sick, but aren't experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, stay away from others in public settings. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Stay home, in a separate room if possible, except to receive medical care. Monitor your symptoms and call your healthcare provider.

Should I stay home from classes?

As of March 13, 2020, all face-to-face class sessions (traditional undergraduate, Adult Evening, and graduate) will be moved to remote teaching for the remainder of the semester.

Is the Northwest University campus still open?

Offices and classrooms on campus are closed. The University mailroom remains open, Monday through Friday, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:30–4:00 PM. You may enter the Barton building through the lower level southwest entry door with your card key. All university employees are working regular hours from home. If you do not know a particular office number, you can get to any employee through the university switchboard at (425) 822-8266, leaving a voicemail that will be routed to the appropriate office. You may also leave an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Employees are getting paid to work, and they will be happy to assist you in a timely manner. Employees with keys may use them to access their offices if needed. Essential services like custodial, food service, maintenance, and security will continue to function during this time.

What should students do who are experiencing the specific symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath)?

Call the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282 to receive advice about what to do. If symptoms occur outside of the Wellness Center's regular hours, students may call the 24-hour free nurse hotline at (425) 899-3000 for advice.

If I'm sick and staying in campus housing, how can I get meals?

Students on the cafeteria board plan who opt to stay in campus housing and need a to-go meal because of sickness can ask a friend or coordinate with their RA to have food delivered to them on the disposable trays now available at the cafeteria. No identification card is required.

What should I do if I work for an outsourcing partner?

Employees of our outsourcing partners should contact their employer for guidance.

What is Northwest doing to minimize exposure to COVID-19 through social distancing?

We have taken temporary steps to reduce interpersonal contact on campus. We have canceled face-to-face classes, chapel services, student group activities, and have closed the Eagle Fitness Center for the remainder of the semester.

What guides the decisions of the University in deciding whether to remain open?

The University will stay in communication with and will carefully follow all directives of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health—Seattle & King County.

What will happen if a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs on the Northwest University campus?

We will immediately inform Public Health—Seattle & King County and follow their directives.

Who should I trust for accurate information about COVID-19?

We encourage everyone to stay current with the information available on the CDC's website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) and/or Public Health—Seattle & King County (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus.aspx).

Will student group travel be cancelled?

We will announce decisions about summer travel plans for student groups by the latter part of April. Students who, in consultation with parents, prefer to stay home are welcome to make that choice, although no refunds of travel expenses will be possible. For an excellent article on air quality on planes, see http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34708785/ns/travel-travel_tips/t/airplane-air-not-bad-you-think/#.Xl1a6y2ZPMI. Other student travel decisions will be made in a timely fashion over the coming weeks.

Are Chinese or other Asian people more contagious than others?

Please be careful not to treat anyone with prejudice during this time of uncertainty. Ethnicity has nothing to do with exposure to the novel coronavirus 2019. According to the CDC, "People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans." (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html).

Should I avoid people who are wearing a face mask?

People who choose to wear face masks are not more likely to be carriers of disease. Often a face mask simply indicates greater concern about catching a virus. Nevertheless, you should only wear a face mask if you are symptomatic to avoid coughing on others. Face masks are not generally effective at avoiding contagion.

Should I self-quarantine?

Since it is cold, flu, and allergy season, many people in our community have cold or other respiratory symptoms and many people are choosing to play it safe. You should self-quarantine if you have fever, cough, and shortness of breath or contact with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19. Don't be a "hero" by coming to work—be a hero by staying home if you are sick. If you do self-quarantine, please notify the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282. If you are an employee, you must also notify your supervisor and the Senior Administrator over your area. If you are a student, you should notify all your professors so they will not mark you absent from class. Professors have been advised to excuse absences of anyone who chooses to stay home sick for any kind of illness.

Should I take sick leave if I stay home from work?

If you are a Northwest University employee and you need to stay home due to symptoms, report the time as sick leave. We will be generous in dealing with sick leave as the situation continues. Do not worry that you will run out of sick leave.

Should I visit the Wellness Center to receive treatment?

Please call the Wellness Center at (425) 889-5282 first rather than just showing up unannounced. They will want to prepare you with instructions to serve you best.

What should I do personally to avoid contracting the virus?

  1. Wash your hands frequently (although not obsessively) for at least 20 seconds, especially after shaking hands with people. It takes about 20 seconds to sing the Doxology, so take advantage of the opportunity to praise God in the midst of this circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your coughs to avoid spreading the virus.
  3. Minimize physical contact with casual acquaintances, substituting a polite nod or other gesture instead of handshakes.
  4. Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you are needed as a caregiver to someone suffering from the disease, do not return to public activity until you are cleared by medical personnel to do so.
  5. Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.
  6. People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others.

How should I pray?

Please join us in prayer that God will protect the health of each member of our community from COVID-19. Pray that everyone will defeat feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. Pray for the administration to make wise decisions about our operations. Pray for professors to be effective in their use of remote teaching methods and in inspiring students with a spirit of hope and optimism and faith. Pray that students will be able to stay current with their studies, encourage their peers, and make wise decisions. Pray for the civil health authorities to make good decisions about how to control the spread of the virus. Pray for supply chains to be replenished with medicines and other supplies needed by people. Pray for people all over the world that we would defeat this menace and that good things may come out of our time of struggle.