March 18, 2020
I’ve read that fear can be highly contagious, especially in situations where everything is changing quickly and we often don’t even know the outcome.
It’s an important insight that informs our rapidly changing, unprecedented situation. While there are many things we can’t control, we can control our fear.
So I have come up with a few things we should think about.
First, it's only a matter of time until the virus affects a member of our campus community. We need to prepare ourselves for the reality that we will be totally online until the end of the semester. And we mustn't be afraid. We must begin by helping you navigate the online learning formats, holding meetings via Zoom and mastering the art of social distancing.
Second, this virus appears to be more contagious than the flu and it may spread faster unless we all do our part to take steps right now to slow it down. That is why the University has implemented all classes online — a good start, but just one step of many we must take. All of us must continue following the guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts. Social distancing, cleaning and practicing good personal hygiene are proven measures to slow the spread of the virus.
At the same time, keep informed about the virus and recent developments from trusted news sources and websites (like Binghamton's COVID-19 page) and avoid sharing rumors that impede the medical response and build mistrust and fear.
Lastly: We are all in this together. It is our collective responsibility to keep our friends, our colleagues, our campus, our community and our nation safe. It's equally important that you treat your colleagues and neighbors with empathy. This virus knows no nationality, state borders or ethnic backgrounds. We can't place blame on or shun certain groups of people because of fear instilled by this virus. It won't be long before you know somebody who will be quarantined or you will learn one of your colleagues has the virus. When that happens, we must continue to treat everyone with compassion and kindness. Reach out to support those who are vulnerable or afraid. Now is the time to come together and contain and defeat this virus.
I will continue to stay in touch during this time of online instruction and a reduced campus environment. I encourage you to keep in touch with your faculty, classmates and your family. I am hopeful we'll see you back on campus in the fall.
For more information and updates, continue to visit the University's COVID-19 website.