Junior Editor describes F&M Administrative Response to COVID-19

Courtesy of fandm.edu

By Olivia Capasso || Junior Editor

In light of these unprecedented circumstances, it is easy to get caught up in what we, the students, administration, and our greater community have lost.  Each day, it feels as though another restriction has been introduced into our daily lives, another event we had been looking forward to is now canceled, and frightening data continues to climb higher.  News outlets only push out material related to COVID-19, making it impossible to escape if you have any access to the media. It is true that the pandemic has engulfed every aspect of our lives, and it often feels as though little else is even happening in the world.  Alerts on our phones continuously update us on the newest statistics, and social media is a constant reminder that our new norm is “quarantining.” We are living in a whirlwind of uncertainty and fear–for good reason. However, it is important to step back every so often and acknowledge the positives in our personal lives, particularly the actions that have been taken by the F&M administration to ensure the safety of our community.

When tasked with how the College should move forward given the news of the outbreak, President Barbara Altmann made the initial, conscious decision to postpone the students’ return to campus until at least April 3rd, pointing out the likely potential for online classes to continue through the remainder of the semester.  There is no protocol in place for this scenario, and yet it is clear she put much thought into arriving at this conclusion while understanding how quickly the pandemic would progress. President Altmann has additionally been particularly good at sending out regular, genuine, and transparent messages to the F&M community in order to update students, families, and faculty on the state of affairs as need be.  Additionally, various members of the administration, counseling services, and OSPGD have sent out regular emails to the community offering access to resources should students need assistance in one way or another.

In comparison, other institutions have responded quite poorly to the circumstances of COVID-19.  Harvard University, among other colleges, asked all students to move out of their on-campus residences within five days.  Many struggled to find a way home, particularly the international students, who often encountered financial difficulties purchasing a plane ticket or logistical issues should their home country be an epicenter of the pandemic.  Though the situation is in no way ideal, we must keep in mind that the F&M administration has been remarkably thorough and fair, particularly by ensuring that those who must stay on campus can do so.

Lastly, we must keep in mind the strain that this transition has had on professors who must move their curriculum online.  It is not easy to mimic a classroom setting through a computer screen and remain accessible to students during such a hectic time, but they are certainly doing the best that they can to ensure that we, the students, are still receiving a wonderful education.  Though we are enduring a frightening moment in history, we do have one another, our dedicated professors, countless resources at our disposal, and many other things to be grateful for.

First-Year Olivia Capasso is a Junior Editor her email is ocapasso@fandm.edu.

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