The Gustavian Weekly

Gustavus prepares for possible COVID-19: Administration makes arrangements to keep campus healthy and virus-free | The Gustavian Weekly

By Marie Osuna - Staff Writer | March 13, 2020 | News

By now, just about everyone has heard about the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The viral outbreak has been a subject of focus for every news outlet in the country and many citizens have been carefully watching the movement of the virus as it makes it’s unfortunate progress.
However, it might be difficult for some college students to sort through the news and memes about the virus to find what is actually true and relevant to them. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), those at the highest risk for contracting the disease are older adults and those with heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. If Gusties don’t have an underlying condition that makes them more vulnerable, do they need to worry about coronavirus? Turns out, it’s a complicated situation.
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) is new to humans and that is what makes it more difficult to manage. We have many coronaviruses that circulate in our community every year, but this type is new and therefore we know less about how the virus behaves,” Director of Health Service Heather Dale said.
“The goal of health officials is initially to contain any new illness, but once more and more people have been infected, then the goal becomes slowing the spread of the virus and mitigating the illness so that our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed as we want to provide the highest level of care for every individual that may need it,” Dale said.
At Gustavus, more is being done to prepare the campus than most students are aware of.
“What students might not know is that we have a team of professionals who is meeting regularly and communicating daily. We are also communicating with our local public health partners and participating in conference calls with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” Dale said.
Preparations are also being made around campus to keep the Gustavus community safe and healthy. For example, Health Services have changed their screening questions asked to every student who makes an appointment. Posters and mirror decals have been put up around campus, informing people about the importance of good hand hygiene. In high-traffic areas around campus, more hand-sanitizing stations have been added and routine cleaning has been increased.
“You will see information about COVID-19 in Once Upon A Potty and maybe a meme or video about hand hygiene on your favorite Student Life social media site,” Dale said.
Should the virus reach Gustavus, Gustavus Health Service is ready for that, too.
“We are considering the use of space to create a satellite clinic on campus (as we did with H1N1 in 2009) and thinking about space where students could be quarantined or isolated should the need arise,” Dale said.
Health Service isn’t the only department on campus making changes. Gustavus Technology Services (GTS) has been teaching professors how to conduct their classes online, should the situation become necessary.
“We are having two workshops for faculty (March 10 from 2-3 p.m. and March 13 from 1:30-2:30 p.m.) that will discuss tools to help faculty teach online: Moodle, Google Meet, and Screencasting. We also are developing a Moodle course (launch date March 10) that digs deeper into how to use these tools on a more detailed level. If faculty want access to this course, they can contact me directly,”Associate Director for Instructional Services in GTS Marni Dunning said.
These services are already being utilized by professors.
“I am trying to teach the students some coronavirus mitigation strategies, whereby we can slow the spread of coronavirus in classrooms. If a student is sick, they are encouraged to stay home for as long as they need. I have put my lecture notes online so people who are sick can still keep up with the class,”Associate Professor in English Sean Cobb said.
“I am planning on holding office hours online, so I can still “meet” with students one-on-one. And I am learning about ways to use video capture so I can record small portions of my class and students can watch them whenever they want,” Cobb said.
The College does not want any students to panic about the virus. The reason for all the preparations is to ensure that if illness does spread, the Gustavus community can stay safe, get the care they need, and stay on track with their classes.
“At Gustavus, our first priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our community members. Our second priority is making sure every student gets a great Gustavus education and experience when they come to our institution,” Dale said.
“We are closely monitoring the fast-changing COVID-19 situation, and working closely with local and state public health officials to make decisions about how to best protect our community,”Dale said.
Gustavus will also publish a daily update on the developing COVID-19 situation on the official school website. Members of the Gustavus community will be updated through this feature as well as through the standing method of email correspondence. The status of daily operations on campus will continue as normal unless announced via these channels.

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