Update From William James College President Nicholas Covino, February 18, 4 PM:
Dear William James Community,
It has been a very mixed start to this year. Among the good news, we are starting to see are indications that the vaccines seem to work, and there is a plan emerging to bring economic relief to the country. Here at the College, we’re celebrating news that the National Association of School Psychologists awarded the maximum period of accreditation to our MA/CAGS program. Several of our academic programs have seen a significant rise in applications which bodes well for the field and for us in September. Outside of our walls and beyond our Zoom screens, many of us are celebrating the fact that pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week.
As we continue to put our masks on, stay six feet apart and get our work done, it is almost impossible to believe that we have been living through this pandemic for nearly a year. Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognize what has been gained, with so much attention needed on the day-to-day. Online education has become second nature to us. Zoom meetings have greater warmth and engagement than seemed possible when we were exasperated by learning to sharing our screens. Students are continuing to pursue their academic and professional plans. And, our clinicians and consultants are bringing benefit to individuals, families and organizations.
We’ll all come back together soon in person, but not yet. I announced in December that we would evaluate our potential to return to on-campus instruction in mid-March. While the numbers have been declining, it is wise to continue online through the end of the Spring semester. We have not yet determined what Summer classes will look like. As has been our case, the health and safety conditions at the end of May will determine that. With the reports of vaccine availability for all by July, is highly likely that we will return to campus in September and we are planning to do so. Likewise, our hope is to have Commencement in person on September 26th at the Park Plaza Hotel…. Like normal!
In the meantime, we stay the course. We’ll engage online where appropriate, and stick to our small circles otherwise. My 15-year old and his basketball friends have learned to play pond hockey in the cemetery in an effort to find socialization. Campus educational programs have been replaced by a series of online offerings, planned and delivered by generous staff and students. Inclusivity, responsibility, and opportunity are more often part of our planning: we are paying closer attention to who is ‘In’ and how we are connected. We are more likely now to ask after each other’s families. Our staff has discovered the value of meeting every other week for an hour to share information, learn about new babies and remain connected. And, as challenging as wearing a mask is for some, it has become an opportunity to show respect and care for a colleague.
The poet Amanda Gorman inspired us at the Inauguration to come together as a country, to find our inner strength and to help our country and each other to heal “…while once we asked, how could we prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert: How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?” The books and papers that we will read about resilience at this College will carry greater meaning after this year.
There will be much to discover when we reconnect sometime this Summer. Until then, we prevail.
PS. Those who wish to get vaccinated can accelerate their chances by offering to drive a senior (over 75 years) to get their shot. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccinations-for-people-ages-75-and-older#mass-vaccination-sites-will-vaccinate-individuals-accompanying-75+.-appointments-needed.- A call to the local Council on Aging or a discussion with a clergyperson near you might lead to a person in need… who can get you taken care of as well.