Monday Moments with President Bergman: March 15, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on March 15th, 2021 by

One year ago, life at Gustavus Adolphus College and throughout Minnesota was changing rapidly. Looking back, it is hard to believe how much happened in March 2020:

  • President Rebecca M. Bergman

    Friday, March 6 – the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota.

  • Wednesday, March 11 – Gustavus started posting a Daily Update on the College’s COVID-19 website. The U.S. Department of State elevated travel advisories to Global Health Level III, triggering the College to recall all study away students to the United States.
  • Thursday, March 12 – The Cabinet transitioned to full-time COVID-19 response to discuss options and develop plans for operational continuity. 
  • Friday, March 13 – Gustavus announced a transition to online course delivery through April 14 and a change to the academic calendar to allow faculty time to prepare for the transition. All campus events were canceled or postponed. Students began to leave campus.
  • March 15 – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the closure of K-12 schools. Gustavus employees started to work from home as much as possible.
  • March 17 – Gustavus announced that online course delivery would continue through the rest of spring semester. Students were required to leave campus with the exception of a small group. All staff except those essential to continuing on-campus operations were required to work from home.
  • Wednesday, March 25 – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a “Stay at Home” order for the state through at least April 10.
  • Monday, March 30 – Online course delivery began. Approximately 70 students remained on campus.

In those early days of the pandemic, we believed that the disruption would be relatively short-lived. But, with each passing day, it became more and more clear that the world was facing a serious challenge that would impact all aspects of everyday life. The concepts of social distancing, frequent handwashing, and diligent cleaning of surfaces were introduced to help stop the spread of the virus. Faculty and students were asked to quickly adapt to online teaching and learning. And soon, the practice of wearing face masks in public settings became a regular part of our existence.

I remember quite clearly that we leaned on three key principles as we wrestled with decisions that would impact Gustavus: (1) Keep people safe; (2) Maintain academic excellence to the best of our ability; and (3) Be good stewards of our community. And now, a year has passed. New routines on campus have allowed us to have a “semi-normal” work and educational experience. Recently, the roll-out of vaccines has given us a new sense of optimism that we are turning the corner in our fight against COVID-19. We are regularly talking about a “new normal” that describes life post-pandemic.

In my message to the community on March 17, 2020, I stated that “I am grateful to all of you for your partnership, flexibility, and courage in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of one another and the community that we all hold dear.” And today, on March 15, 2021, I am overflowing again with gratitude—for your partnership, flexibility, and courage; for your diligence in following public health guidelines that safeguard our community; for your patience and understanding as “best practices” continue to evolve; and, most of all, for countless ways you have cared for each other during these stressful times.

Thank you, Gusties. Keep up the good work.

Yours in community,

President Bergman

 

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