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.
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.