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.
Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University
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?
- If you have been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, call the Wellness Center and your healthcare provider, and follow the procedures outlined here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDcasepositive.pdf
- If you haven't been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19 but are experiencing symptoms, follow the procedures outline here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDconcerned.pdf
- If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 disease, call the Wellness Center, your healthcare provider, and follow the procedures outlined here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDcasepositive.pdf
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?
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?
- 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).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your coughs to avoid spreading the virus.
- Minimize physical contact with casual acquaintances, substituting a polite nod or other gesture instead of handshakes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.