Happy New Year to all and thank you again for your flexibility as we begin 2022.
The steep rise in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant required quick action this week. I appreciate the staff and management who have again adjusted to remote work alongside faculty who are adjusting courses for live virtual instruction during the first two weeks of spring 2022. Those teaching on campus for winter intersession, or those deemed to have essential responsibilities on site, are made safer with fewer students and colleagues around.
If a positive can be found in recent COVID-19 developments, hospitalization and mortality rates appear to not be rising as quickly as cases – in part because of the protective effect of vaccination from serious complications. This reinforces vaccination as one of the most critical steps to safeguard your own health and limit the strain on medical providers.
As opposed to minimizing effects, slowing the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant will depend on returning to those same tactics of 2020 and early 2021: wear a mask or face covering around others not of the same household, maintain social distance, adopt enhanced cleaning practices, and improve air flow. The Coast District is working to sustain all of these practices through your efforts.
This understandably feels like a step back in the progress we were making towards a normal semester. Please continue to be patient with your colleagues, your students, and yourself as we process the complex emotions around a years-long pandemic. Please also seek out assistance as needed. We are all experiencing the effects of prolonged stress and concern, and that means we must take care of ourselves first.
John Weispfenning, Ph.D.