COVID-19 Community Update – March 20, 2020
Dear Northwest University community member,
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:
- 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
- IT/Mail Room
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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