COVID-19 message to students

[NOTE: This is the note I sent to my students via our Learning Management System about our school closure and going to online teaching. It certainly isn’t perfect, but feel free to use and adapt if you want.]

Hi everyone – Ok, first, before we dive in, let’s take a collective deep breath. In through the nose . . . 2, 3, 4 . . out through the mouth . . . 2, 3, 4. I’m not being glib. If you are paying even a bit of attention, it is easy to end up with your shoulders up around your ears and your jaws clenched tight. Maybe that’s just me. But probably not. However, we are all in this together, things are gonna get weird, and we’ll figure it out. The most important thing is everyone staying as healthy as possible (physically and mentally), doing their part to keep from infecting each other, and knowing that the rest (credit hours, grades, defenses, etc) will get worked out in time. No one is getting penalized for what has officially become a global pandemic (which basically means a multi-country novel illness).

1. You should have received the news, but classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17. As of now, classes will resume on Wednesday, March 18. While A&M has not yet gone to mandatory online-only, I am going to teach my classes online starting Wednesday. This will be rocky at first, since converting to online teaching isn’t simple, and I’ve only got a week to figure it out. So I thank you in advance for your patience and assistance.

2. You’ll get more info from me by Monday about what going online means. At this time, I am expecting us to meet as a class at the normal class times. We will be using Zoom. If you have not yet claimed your free Zoom membership at tamu.zoom.us, do that now. We are going to see if video class will work, since I think that makes it easier to stay engaged. If the bandwidth isn’t there as everyone goes online, we will go to audio-only. There will be interactive parts. There will be discussion. It will be messy while we figure it out. But in the scheme of things, the challenges of going to online classes for a few weeks or the rest of the semester is small potatoes. Any time it starts to stress you out (or even before that!) feel free to reach out. 

3. If you are somewhere without a reliable computer and/or internet, let me know ASAP. You can also use Zoom on your phone, so be sure to download the app. 

4. If you have other issues (need for accessibility accommodations, housing/food challenges because of school/travel limitations, etc) and don’t know where to get help, please feel free to reach out and I’ll help you get connected to resources, the best I can;.

5. Don’t panic, but take the whole situation seriously. It isn’t just about protecting ourselves, it is about keeping each of us from becoming disease vectors that spread coronavirus to vulnerable people – older folks, people with illnesses or chronic disease or compromised immune systems, etc. It is about slowing the rate of sickness to keep our medical systems from getting overwhelmed. So do your best to follow sanitation and social distancing protocols, for yourself and others. If you need more resources on any of that, let me know.

Thanks again for your adaptability on this. We’ll try to have fun with the opportunities and challenges presented by online interaction for class, and we’ll figure it out.

See ya on the interwebs.

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