Fall 2020 Return to Campus: Welcome to Thunderdome

Here we go. As many of you on our Health Sciences campus have already noticed, WVU freshman and other students have started arriving in Morgantown. You might be excited. You might be scared. You might be considering all of your own life choices and exposure to the larger Morgantown community, right down to whether or not the annual fee for a grocery delivery service is tax deductible due to a global pandemic (can someone check on that one and get back to me…for a friend?!)

For many of us on the administrative and faculty side, can we just say…same. We are anxious too. We are equally excited and nervous about what happens next. We want to ensure our entire WVU community stays safe as we take a phased return to campus approach. However, we are also realistic and want to encourage all of you to be the same as we tune back in to what is happening with the larger WVU system rather than only being concerned about our corner of the world out here at HSC.

I feel it too, the draw to just focus when I listen to return to campus conversations on what all of this will mean for HSC. So many of you have been exceedingly patient as you get emails, notifications, and general alerts that you know might not fully apply to you. I have been amazed at the generosity you have shown us as you acknowledge that your faculty and administrators have a lot of moving parts to work through in thinking about an effective plan for your specific needs.

It’s hard though. I get it. You want to know what you specifically need to do, but at the same time have the reassurance that the larger system has a plan for whatever comes next in this total whirlwind (as generous a word as I could find without cursing) of a year. You want to feel certain that the training you are receiving is adequate for your program, while you balance your real and valid concerns about doing whatever it takes to reduce density on our campuses for overall safety.

The one thing we are lacking right now is absolutes. There is no right or wrong answer. Mental health professionals often talk about this type of experience as cognitive dissonance, being able to hold space for both/and rather than either/or ideas. I can’t pretend to have that for you. What I can do is be here with you though.

Gentle reminders while we continue to pivot (we’ve collectively decided this is the official word of 2020, right?!) throughout this semester:

  • If we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned productivity is different in the midst of a pandemic
    • Slow down, let yourself have breaks, including extended media (yes, social media too) breaks to recharge
  • Control the things you can control
    • Take it back to basics: sleeping, eating, some sort of daily physical movement
  • Pivot, pivot, and…………………….pivot
    • Stay flexible and adaptable, knowing things will probably change again before you even have time to fully stress out about this iteration
  • Communicate your needs
    • With your support system, with your cohort, with your faculty, and with your administrators
      • They can’t help if they don’t know!
    • Remember the BeWell Program is here
      • Telehealth sessions: compassionate, confidential, and now even more convenient
      • Motivation Mondays every Monday at 12pm EST (ongoing discussion group series for everyone at HSC to renew your commitment to your own goals each and every week)

Be Well.

 - Dr. Jen