We are getting more encouraging news from Entergy. Some power transmission has begun to the city and now the work of repairing actual lines begins. It’s still impossible to know the exact timeframe, but my hope is that it is more like a week or two rather than months.
We also know that reopening requires more than just power on campus, and we will wait until most of our area is functioning. But once power does return to campus, we should be able to quickly open it up to you.
Our plan may therefore actually work (knocking on wood). Hopefully campus and much of the city will have power before the September 13th end of our two-week class cancellation, and we will have started coming home as we are able to. On September 13th, we will still begin teaching virtually, to give ourselves more of a cushion and the chance for students and all of you to get back without losing more weeks of the semester. I want to send a special thank you to the faculty who will resume instruction for 8-week online courses next week. We are so grateful that you are able to help our online students avoid a challenging complication in the progress towards their degrees.
As always, we will remain flexible – with those of you who need it and with our students who cannot get back right away. Even when we begin teaching in person, hopefully on September 20th, we can help the worst-hit students with flexibility and hyflex options.
I am beyond relieved at the initial results of our faculty survey. Thus far, the vast majority who have answered report being physically safe and comparatively lucky, though utterly exhausted. Some of us are crowded into hotel rooms or imposing on the generosity of friends and family. Some of you are sweating it out at home, waiting in line for hours for food or gas.
We are polling the staff now, but we know that far more of them live in the worst-affected areas, where they have lost their homes and everything they own or have the crushing anxiety of not knowing yet.
When power returns, I am hoping that those of us who have room might take in a colleague. I hope that we think creatively about how best to help them, from donations to assistance filling out those infuriating FEMA forms. For all of us who lived through Katrina, we remember exactly how bad it will be. This is our moment to return the generosity that so many of us received then.
We also are thinking through the logistics of how best to check on our students, whose experiences will range from massive disruption to serious trauma.
For faculty who are able next week, it would help to engage with students, particularly first years who had little time to bond with us and each other. Here is advice from Erin Dupuis:
Faculty, if you are able, please reach out to students in ways that are reassuring and optimistic about our ability to come back together as a community and to complete their classes. Canvas is an efficient tool to reach all students, especially if you send an email to the class and also post your message as an announcement. The SSO is working, but anybody having problems accessing Canvas can reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Some faculty have set up discussion boards specifically for students to discuss their current situations or to reach out to each other. After a disaster, having a sense of community and belonging is critically important to well-being. Having a space and keeping in touch may provide students with a much-needed sense of normalcy. Please also remind students of our coaching resources: emergencycoachingnetwork.org. They offer support for stress, health, school, finances, online learning, food, and shelter, something our students may need at this time of upheaval.
My hope is that the end is in sight for most of us, and then we can focus on helping those for whom this will be a long and terrible journey.
I can’t thank you enough,