Message To Parents

Posted on March 18th, 2020 by

TO: Gustavus Parents
FROM: President Rebecca Bergman
SUBJECT: Gustavus COVID-19 Update for Parents
DATE: March 18, 2020

Gustie Parents,

Last night, we made the difficult decision to extend our period of online learning through the end of spring semester. This is a challenging time for all of us at Gustavus and across the world as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic. As with all decisions made during this fast-developing situation, our primary goal was to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all members of the Gustavus community and especially the most vulnerable among us.

I know that this decision to ask the majority of students to leave campus has caused angst and confusion among our students and families. We know there are special circumstances faced by some families, and we are committed to working with you on an individual basis. I want to stress that we have a process in place by which students who need to stay on campus can do so. For others, we ask that those students who are currently on campus leave in an orderly fashion by 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. Students who have already left campus are asked not to return at this time; we are in the process of scheduling times when students and families can return to gather their belongings in a safe and coordinated manner. Please see the Dean of Students message to students for specific details. If you have any questions, please call the Gustavus COVID-19 hotline at 507-933-6449.

As we carefully considered this decision, our leadership team made three key commitments to all members of our community:

  • We will ensure that no student lacks food, a safe place to live, or access to online learning.
  • We will be sensitive to our employees’ needs.
  • We acknowledge that this is a time of disruption. We will take all reasonable steps to make this challenging period manageable for all members of the Gustavus community.

Below, I have copied the message I sent last night to students, faculty, and staff. For answers to many of your questions, including information about plans for residence hall move-out, please visit the Gustavus COVID-19 website or call the Gustavus COVID-19 hotline at 507-933-6449.

I know that this is a time of uncertainty and there are many questions on your mind as we discern what the coming weeks will look like. We take our charge to educate your child seriously, and I am grateful for the trust that you put in our faculty and staff to keep all members of the community safe. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of unprecedented change.

Sincerely,

President Bergman


TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Important Update on Gustavus Response to COVID-19
DATE: March 17, 2020

Members of the Gustavus Community,

I write today with an updated announcement on Gustavus measures in response to the fast-developing COVID-19 situation. First, however, I want to offer a personal note to members of our community.

In times of uncertainty, we have always relied on each other. After a tornado devastated our campus in 1998, the greater Gustavus community responded with an outpouring of support and our students were able to finish their coursework. Today we are faced with a similar challenge–a global pandemic that is affecting not only our college, but all facets of daily life at home and abroad.

The College has made the difficult decision to extend its period of online learning through the end of the spring semester. Students are required to leave campus by Sunday, March 22. Individuals with extenuating circumstances may petition to stay on campus. Please read the forthcoming email from the Dean of Students Office for more specific information. We are also implementing work-from-home practices for as many employees as possible and significantly reducing on-campus services and building access.

Throughout this quickly-developing situation, we have followed guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal government is now asking citizens to limit gatherings to less than 10 people, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced yesterday that public spaces such as restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities are closed to in-person service. Our primary goal remains the health and wellbeing of all members of our community. Right now, that means taking action to help slow the community spread of COVID-19.

It is with a deep sense of sadness that I write this message today. All along, we had hoped to resume normal operations and in-person classes in a few short weeks. As we prepare to face this situation together, there are three things I want you to know:

  • We will ensure that no student lacks food, a safe place to live, or access to online learning.
  • We will be sensitive to our employees’ needs.
  • We acknowledge that this is a time of disruption. We will take all reasonable steps to make this challenging period manageable for all members of the Gustavus community.

Our vision statement calls for us to act on the great challenges of our time. Sometimes that ambitious charge feels more abstract than real. Today, however, our commitment to acting on the great challenges of our time is immediately at hand. Today, we must answer that call.

Gustavus students, and seniors in particular, I feel for you during this difficult time. At Gustavus, so much of our learning is done in community–in classes and labs and residence halls, in rehearsals and at athletic practices–and that has been taken away from you. I ask that you remain engaged and committed to learning, and to each other, during this period of change.

Gustavus faculty, I know that you care deeply for our students and value face-to-face interactions, classroom dialogue, and hands-on learning. I also know that you will continue to care for and support our students in learning and growing even if we are not together in Saint Peter. Thank you for your commitment to helping our students complete their coursework.

Gustavus staff, you provide the behind-the-scenes effort that makes our community of learning possible. You connect with our students, support our faculty, and provide the home-away-from-home that makes our campus warm and welcoming to all.

Now is our time to step up and be good stewards of the Gustavus community as well as our local, state, national, and world community. We must aggressively practice social distancing to flatten the curve of this pandemic to protect our healthcare system and the most vulnerable among us.

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.

Please watch for additional communications specifically to students, faculty, staff. The official College announcement is below.

Yours in community,

President Bergman

 

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