Thoughts on COVID-19

My friend Blanca, who teaches in Asia, told me that her school has moved to an all-online format for the rest of the month and that the lack of her usual structure is disorienting. Universities are cancelling study abroad programs, assessing the risk of students returning from spring break in locations across the globe, and some are preparing to end the semester with all-online classes, if they have not done so already. We are clearly in new territory as university leaders struggle to identify the best way forward.

My hopes as we move through this crisis:

• I hope that universities can provide adequate support for students whose studies are disrupted.

• I hope that faculty members who must switch to online teaching with very little notice have each other’s backs. I hope people are generous in sharing materials and best practices. Along those lines, Jenae Cohn and Beth Seltzer of Stanford created an excellent guide for teaching effectively during times of disruption. Click here to access their guide.

• I hope that we can find silver linings. I hope that parents lucky enough to have a co-parent can appreciate having someone with whom to share the burden if schools close and they are trying to work from home. I hope parents and kids can take advantage of being sequestered at home to read together, play games, or bake bread. I hope that when a conference is cancelled, we can appreciate the unexpected free time to complete a project or finally get to the book we’ve been wanting to read.

• I hope the lesson we take from this is that we all need to work together to safeguard health and well-being. As long as there are people who can’t afford to take time off work or to see a health care provider, we are all at risk. I hope this crisis leads to better systems and structures, and better preparation for the future.