COVID-19 Community Update – March 19, 2020
Dear Northwest University community member,
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.
- 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.
- As of today, if you can leave campus, you must do so. Refunds have been announced and are available to you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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