Updated: Sep 7
AVOID THE URGE TO FORGET THE PAIN OF THE PANDEMIC. LEARN FROM IT.
Beginning in February and March of 2020 the world changed with the spread of Covid-19. Colleges and universities needed to adapt quickly to survive. Almost all campuses were closed by the end of March 2020 and the modality of education changed from in-person to remote. Zoom became a household word. As a vice president working in Higher Education at that time I experienced firsthand the challenges faced by leaders trying to reopen campuses and keep students, faculty and staff safe.
New campus handbooks (updated by the semester) which included the latest CDC guidance, expectations for educational modality, remote work policies, restrictions to campus access, instructions for COVID wellness apps, testing requirements, food service changes, and so much more, became commonplace.
Residential life dramatically changed. Students were not allowed guests in their rooms or on campus at all in most cases. There were no sports or other large scale events. There were quarantine and isolation rooms, and an occasional dorm closure. True socialization with your campus community ceased.
We learned about students, faculty, staff and their families getting sick with the virus. In some cases these resulted in hospitalization and in even fewer cases (thank god) we learned that someone died.
Although the number of cases and deaths from those cases has significantly declined, the mental and societal impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be with us for years to come.
Nearly 30 months after campuses closed as a result of Covid-19 many aspects of campus life have returned to the pre-pandemic way of things. However, there is a new normal. Vaccine mandates, staffing shortages, a decline nationally in the number of students attending college are just a few examples. Opportunities exist for Higher Education to take the lessons learned from the pandemic and turn those lessons into opportunities.
My goal with this mirco-blog is to identify these opportunities, point out some of the things we should not repeat and celebrate the successes of institutions throughout the country that have embraced new creative ways to operate.