Dear FLC students,
I know that you are coming to terms with our rapid shift to online courses. To help with this unexpected situation, I offer detailed information in the attached Academic Resources & Updates List, outlining the forms of support FLC will provide (including updates to coursework, advising, grading, tutoring, technology, wellness, graduation—and more) as we complete the Fall 2020 semester. As we think through our need to manage our course changes, let me also provide an important reminder of the Skyhawk strengths and values we will draw on as we meet this current challenge.
Just this past Friday, our campus was fully in-person and the weather was so warm we were walking around in shorts. Yesterday, Monday, everything felt different: our courses had transitioned online and our campus was quiet, cold, and covered with snow. Although these shifts seem unwelcome, I encourage us to see them as necessary, even beneficial changes. Just as we have needed the snow to reverse our region’s dryness and prevent wildfires, we need direct interventions to counter the threat of COVID-19 and prevent its rapid spread. Our shift to online courses is our forceful measure to keep our FLC community safe. Many of you and your families have been impacted by COVID-19, and you know that this virus needs a serious response. As Skyhawks, we are tough enough and adaptable enough to do what is needed—and do it with a sense of togetherness that reflects our values of community care.
Our most important goal is to keep each and every one of you safe. At this point in the semester, we want to make sure that you are healthy as you return back home for the fall/winter break. We certainly do not want you bring the virus back to your home community. Entering into the past weekend, we had 15 positive cases; over the weekend, we experienced a sudden spike of 29 new positive cases, creating a total of 44 positives. Most cases have been traced to off-campus activities including work and travel. Note that last night the Durango Herald reported on the rise of COVID cases in our immediate area. With this type of rapid rise, we decided that we must engage in preventative measures to keep our campus safe, and this included academic precautions. Our campus remains safe in part because no virus transmission has been linked to classroom activities—and we decided that we want to make sure that stays the case by limiting classroom interactions.
We are encouraging all of you to remain on campus, using campus resources to complete your coursework in a safe and supported way. We also want you to use our COVID services to get tested and receive negative results before you return home. Again, our campus is remaining safe because we can control our space and actions, while also implementing our successful COVID tracking and isolating protocols. Over the next two weeks, you should continue to use campus as your academic home: use our technology and internet resources for your online classes; continue to participate in reduced-size lab, studio, and outdoors classes; use our safe study spaces in Reed Library to complete coursework; and, remain connected to your dorm or household “pod” and engage in physically-distanced, masked-up small group work. We are working to increase our in-person and online services for you. For example, as explained in the attached list, the FLC Grub Hub food pantry (free groceries) will be open every day this and next week, and Skyhawk Station and the Academic Counselors will be providing zoom “drop in advising” from 7:00am-12:00 and 1:00-5:00pm each day.
I know that you have specific academic questions, and I have provided a detailed outline of our most recent academic updates in the attached Academic Resources & Updates List. The topics covered include:
Please note that we are emphasizing COVID communication on our FLC homepage. Please check your email and our dedicated COVID webpages for the latest updates. Our FLC homepage now has an “Updates” button that links to a COVID-19 Updates page where our most important COVID communications are archived for you to reference. Social media will link to these messages, which will come to your email first. Our homepage also has a “Case Count” button that links to our COVID-19 Information page that features our Testing Data. For more specific academic information, we have created a new Finishing up Fall 2020 page and will continue to add information to our Gear-Up FLC page. We are working to make sure that we can get meaningful information to you in the quickest and clearest way possible.
I know it has been frustrating to manage this disruption to the end of the semester—especially when we were only two weeks away from completing our in-person classes together. However, let’s recollect that two weeks is a relatively short amount of time for online work. As we move into these last weeks, let’s also recollect that this timing is aligning with extreme pandemic events such as the US experiencing its highest ever number of cases and Europe shutting down. We must remain extremely proud of the fact that we have kept our Skyhawk family safe for an entire semester. Let’s commit to bringing our Skyhawk strengths--our resilience, our flexibility, and our commitment to each other--into the spring semester. Let’s be reassured by the better future ahead, knowing that we will make it a success. Let’s end strong, and look forward to the new year and a new semester on campus together.
Prof. Cheryl Nixon, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Fort Lewis College