This message was sent on March 13 to the Wake Forest community and Wake Forest parents and families.
Dear Wake Forest Community,
Since I wrote to you last, much has changed in the global fight against COVID-19. In spite of the uncertainty, these measures can also be cause for hope and optimism. This level of united action is important if we, as a nation and community, are to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Wake Forest is one small part of the ongoing and collective effort to contain and mitigate the effects of the virus. While this idea of caring for humanity is familiar to us, the times are galvanizing us to a deeper pursuit of that ideal. That call has led us to take several steps that none of us ever thought we would see on our campus. And there will be more to come as the situation dictates.
Today, I want to affirm a few decisions made in the interest of health and safety and remind you that the best place to keep updated on our response to frequently asked questions is at the Wake Forest COVID-19 website.
- Wake Forest students concerned about returning to campus in the event the situation changes and in-person classes are resumed can be assured that the University is prepared to be flexible.
- Wake Forest faculty and staff are prohibited from institutional travel for non-essential purposes. Necessary travel must be approved at the Vice President/Dean level. Additionally, faculty and staff participation in job-related gatherings on and off campus (e.g. conferences and meetings) larger than 50 people is prohibited. These restrictions will remain in place through at least June 30, 2020. (Within the next few weeks, a decision will be made regarding Commencement.)
- All members of our community traveling for any reason must follow CDC guidance for self-isolation if returning from Level 3 countries, areas of the United States facing widespread community transmission, or from a cruise. All travelers should practice “social distancing” – monitor for symptoms while keeping a distance of six feet from other people and limit time in groups of people.
As we do our part in slowing down the spread of COVID-19, I am grateful to all of you for your flexibility in a rapidly changing situation. Working on behalf of the greater good often means there are individual sacrifices. Thank you for your resilience in the midst of disappointment and difficulty, especially those seniors whose semester is turning out much differently than expected. And thank you for showing compassion toward one another as we support those who need to remain at Wake Forest. I am thankful for the many University leaders, who have led and counseled so adeptly through this changing situation; I am appreciative of those who are working tirelessly to prepare for a new way to deliver the Wake Forest educational experience; and I am grateful to those on the front lines who are caring for this community in ways that we may see or not see.
In the coming days, we will modify the deep, personal engagement that is at the heart of our community. But we must not abandon it. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need one another. So while we must change how we connect, we will lean into our ingenuity, pursue creative solutions and embrace the challenge to discover how we can maintain the best of who we are in the midst of changed and uncertain circumstances.
We talk often that learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom. What I hope we all learn in these days is that we are a community that fully lives out its boldest claim. May we be people who truly fulfill the spirit of Pro Humanitate – for one another, our nation and our world.
Thank you for your patience, strength and hopeful anticipation this week and in the days to come. I will be in touch again soon.
Nathan O. Hatch