Coronavirus Update for Students, Parents, and Families

March 21, 2020

As we start online courses on Monday, we are ready to get back to class, back to learning and challenging ourselves – even though that will look and feel different. The college continues to make adjustments as we get updated guidance from national, state, and local health departments. We recognize that there is a lot of anxiety and frustration resulting from constant changes. We are doing our best to stay nimble and we appreciate your understanding and support. This communication provides some updates related to campus services and resources, residential students, and mental health. We will be following up next week with a virtual programming schedule after students have gotten adjusted to their online courses.

Campus Services and Resources

During our transition to remote instruction, there will be limited services available on campus. The Westminster coronavirus webpage provides information about financial support resources for students as well as the availability of campus services. Although Shaw remains open with campus dining options for students, those experiencing food insecurity can connect with the Food Justice Committee through Daniel Cairo, Assistant Dean of Students, via email at dcairo@westminstercollege.edu for support.

The Office of Student Success and Retention will be providing students with a resource guide to assist them in transitioning from in-person learning to online learning. Students will receive this guide in their email. We will also post it on the college website and social media channels.

Students who need academic accommodations during this time can reach out to Jody Katz, Director of Disability Services, for support. Jody can be reached at jkatz@westminstercollege.edu.

The Giovale Library will be closed to the public until further notice due to the recommendations against group gatherings. The library will continue to support you online. Many of our resources are already online: databases, research help via chat or email, electronic interlibrary loan, etc. We are working with Information Services to loan laptops to those that are without a mobile device. Pick up will be by appointment only at the Giovale Library. More information will be forthcoming. If you need to check out an item in our physical collection, we will be able to accommodate that by appointment. Please check out the library webpage for the latest information. If you have a question, please email library@westminstercollege.edu.

Residential Students

We understand that some students’ off campus accommodations over the past two weeks were anticipated to be temporary. However, we are strongly encouraging students who do not need to stay in the residence halls to stay in their current living situation, per the advice of our government officials and public health professionals. For students currently in the residence halls who want to move out, there are a couple of options: 1) Complete the Spring Move Out form indicating your available times, which will be confirmed by the Office of Residence Life, or 2) If you are unable to get back to campus to move out, we will keep your items in your space until May 2. You can schedule an appointment with the Office of Residence Life to move your belongings at that time.

To be very clear, returning to campus is meant for students who do not have any other options and need the support of living in the residence halls. Students requesting to stay must complete the Continuation of Spring Housing form and sign the addendum to the 2019-20 housing contract.

Please note residence halls will not be operating at full capacity and services, such as food and housekeeping, will be limited. Other support services, such as Resident Assistants, on-campus staff, and facilities and services will not be available such as classrooms, library, and HWAC are not likely to be available. Some services may be available online.

Should you have questions or concerns, please reach out directly to housing@westminstercollege.edu.

Online Mental Health Resources

Recognizing the challenges faced by students everywhere during these unique circumstances, Active Minds has created a special online hub for students to support their mental health during COVID-19.

Additionally, the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors are offering three free webinars next week, two of which are specifically designed for students. Please feel free to share widely with others who want to learn about caring for their own well-being, want to continue their mental health advocacy online, and/or want to learn about how to navigate unique communication challenges that come with returning home, transitioning to online learning, and staying connected while practicing physical distancing.

Sleep, Self-Care, and Sharing a Productive, Healthy Indoor Environment: Everything Students Need to Know about Mental Health during COVID-19 - Tuesday, March 24, 7pm ET

Intended for: Students

Millions of students have been displaced due to COVID-19-related school closures and are curious about practicing self-care, creating a productive, healthy indoor environment, talking to their parents about mental health while quarantined and more. Dr. Kristen Lee, a licensed clinical social worker and associate teaching professor at Northeastern University, will share tips for all of these questions and more during this free, interactive discussion with up to 500 student participants.

REGISTER

Student Chat: Student-Led Mental Health Advocacy in an Era of Physical Distancing - Wednesday, March 25, 7pm ET

Intended for: Student mental health advocates

In an unprecedented moment for higher education, students continue to lead the way with innovative, creative, and impactful ideas to support the mental health needs of their peers. This interactive meeting and discussion, led by Active Minds, will share strategies students have employed to maintain connection, educate and support mental health and wellness, and build community at a time of increased anxiety, isolation, and instability among students. Limited to 100 student participants.

REGISTER

Communicating in Quarantine: Tips to Encourage Mental Wellness in Close Quarters - Thursday, March 26, 7pm ET

Intended for: young adults, parents, remote workers, neighbors/community members

All over the country, families, communities, schools, and workplaces are facing feelings of isolation and challenges with communicating with others as a result of students returning home after school closures; individuals balancing multiple responsibilities in a shared space with each other and other family members or roommates; colleagues, students, faculty, and administrators continuing their work through online formats; and members of the community working to support their most vulnerable neighbors while practicing physical distancing. This webinar will share easy, practical ways we can start supporting each other better right now through active listening. Limited to 500 participants.

REGISTER

Please know that the care of our students and supporting them in their goals are top priorities for us as we navigate the challenges brought by this pandemic. Thank you for your support and confidence as you join us in this journey.

Best Regards,
Karnell McConnell-Black
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students

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