March 10, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to dominate national news coverage. Its global impact is real and lasting, and it requires an appropriately measured response. The Special Committee urges our community of faith and learning to view these circumstances through a gospel-informed lens and to understand that COVID-19 offers believers an opportunity to infuse this troubling phenomenon with the radiant hope offered by the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Our priority is to make informed decisions that promote the well-being of our faculty, staff, and students. Presently, Welch College expects to resume on-campus courses as planned on Monday, March 23.

However, we continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation, and we are prepared to respond to a situation where, due to community spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), normal collegiate operating procedures are no longer feasible. Thus, the College may, for example, modify college travel, including for Choir tour, transition from residential (i.e., on-campus) to online learning, and even cancel events.

While the Committee believes that current facts and circumstances do not warrant such measures at the present time, the development of the COVID-19 phenomenon has demonstrated that all plans are subject to change (and sometimes rapidly!). Therefore, follow campus email and other sources of College information closely for any announcements. In order to communicate quickly and effectively, the Committee has decided that it will use the college’s emergency notification system to communicate important updates concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the campus community, if needed.

If a member of the Welch community (e.g., faculty, staff, or student) is exposed through interaction with someone who tests positive or tests positive himself or herself (over spring break or after), then he or she must report this information to the Committee immediately by emailing covid-19@welch.edu.

In an effort to answer several important questions related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have included a section of frequently asked questions below.

The Committee continues to monitor this changing situation actively and its impact to the Welch College community. We will issue further updates as needed. As always, contact the Committee with any questions or concerns by emailing covid-19@welch.edu.

Special Committee to Review Coronavirus Outbreak
Members, in alphabetical order:
Matthew Steven Bracey
Greg Fawbush, Co-chair
Dr. Jon Forlines
Russell Houske
Dr. Greg Ketteman
Craig Mahler, Co-chair

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and what information do I need to know about this illness?

See the factsheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked here about this respiratory illness originating in China. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty with breathing.

Has anyone on campus been exposed to or tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We have not received report of any cases at this time. However, if a member of our community is exposed through interaction with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or tests positive himself or herself, then he or she MUST report this information to the Committee as soon as possible by emailing covid-19@welch.edu.

If faculty, staff, or students learn that he or she has interacted with someone who tested positive or tests positive himself or herself, what steps should they follow?

  • Contact the Committee immediately (email: covid-19@welch.edu).
  • Follow the steps outlined by the CDC found here, including contacting your medical provider, self-isolating, and taking preventative measures to limit exposure to others. However, please note that the CDC recommends that one first call his or her medical provider (or a local hospital) if one believes he or she is sick with COVID-19 (i.e., do not visit the healthcare facility without first talking with a doctor or healthcare professional by phone). Such persons should also notify 911 dispatch of this same information when seeking assistance in a medical emergency.

Will Welch College provide testing to those exposed to or showing symptoms of (COVID-19)?

The Committee understands that test kits are not available to the general public and that public health officials (e.g., in Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Health) must approve testing. Although professionals are developing a vaccination for COVID-19, they have not yet completed it.

Will Welch College transition its courses from on-campus to online like other colleges or universities?

This option is a possibility. Fortunately, it is one with which Welch has some experience, since the College implemented it for a time when it relocated from Nashville to Gallatin. The Provost is currently working with faculty on that option in the event that Welch determines that this option is necessary.

When does the College expect to move on-campus classes to an online format?

While the College reserves this option, it is hopeful that it will not implement it. However, due to changing circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, such an option is possible. As of now, classes are expected to resume as normal (i.e., on-campus) on March 23; however, if circumstances warrant, we could implement the plan for online learning now (e.g., to begin March 23) or later (e.g., at some date after returning to campus on March 23).

Owing to the possibility of transitioning on-campus courses to an online modality as early as March 23, the Committee advises all students to take all textbooks and other materials for school with them when leaving for spring break.

If the college exercises the aforementioned option, it will need to communicate numerous other details. Consequently, Welch constituency must follow campus email closely for new announcements related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact at Welch College, including over spring break. In addition, due to the nature of this situation, we may use the college’s emergency notification system to communicate important updates to everyone.

What steps can we taken to prevent (or at least minimize the risk) the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) (or, for that matter, other communicable illness)?

Preventative measures include:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least sixty percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching one’s face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. If you are sick, avoid others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve. If using a tissue, immediately throw it away.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and objects.
  • Stay home if you are ill.
  • Many recommend avoiding handshakes, hugs, or other common forms of greeting.

For more information, review the CDC’s guidelines.

Is Welch College implementing special cleaning procedures?

The College regularly uses commercial-grade cleaning agents. However, we have recently acquired a hospital-grade cleaner and will deep clean public areas over spring break.

Will the campus remain open for employees to report to work if Welch College implements the aforementioned plan for temporary online learning?

It depends. Unless circumstances warrant a temporary shutdown that includes a time where employees remain home, employees will report to work. Other than the possibility for mandatory training days and once online learning is implemented, the Provost may permit other faculty work arrangements.

Whom should one contact if he or she is feeling anxious or struggling to cope with the impact of COVID-19?

The Committee understands that some anxiety and concern exist and we continue to pray for and support faculty, staff, and students (both generally and specifically) who may be struggling with the impact of COVID-19. Resources and services are available, beginning with the College’s caring, compassionate faculty and staff who view supporting our student body as part of their vocational responsibility and calling as teachers.

We remind anyone who struggles with fears about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) (which is understandable, especially given the proliferation of media attention) to find hope in the Lord.

Though we are prudent to isolate ourselves when ill, the Committee urges faculty, staff, and students to avoid unnecessarily taking social distancing to an extreme, remembering that we are called to live in Christian community and fellowship.

We would remind our community of the counseling and other resources available to students (contact Student Services).

 

For the latest information about coronavirus, visit welch.edu/coronavirus

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