USD Adapts, Remains Vigilant Against Pandemic

USD Adapts, Remains Vigilant Against Pandemic

The University of San Diego has always been a special place. Not just for the beautiful campus and views, but because of its liberal arts academic rigor, small class size, experiential learning, research and other attributes. USD inspires students and gives them a sense that where they are is the best place to be.

Unfortunately, the USD campus — a place we'd all like to be right now — isn't the right place to be. A pandemic, a health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 coronavirus, is sweeping across the globe. It’s not something that happens "elsewhere" or “over there.” It doesn't discriminate and can potentially happen anywhere the virus spreads and can afflict anyone.

USD is taking steps to keep our community safe. Beginning March 23, faculty will solely teach students online and many campus events have already been cancelled or postponed. Indeed, the weight of this health crisis is unprecedented. When addressing the campus community, President James T. Harris III, DEd, noted that, in these extraordinary times, our commitment to our mission and our community remains the same.

Keeping People Safe
The best way to combat the spread of the virus is to be vigilant. To be home. To isolate yourself, particularly from people over 65 years old and those with underlying health conditions. To wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, maintain a safe distance from others, avoid touching your face and wipe down the area around you and common places where germs live. Be safe, be smart, be well.

The University of San Diego continues to adapt and work through a situation that is largely unknown. A health pandemic requires serious attention and a serious response. The university is trying to do what's possible and what's right for a 10,000-strong USD community made up of students, faculty and staff who call USD their place to live and learn, worship, forge friendships and create memories.

While this situation is obviously unwelcome, we have to respond and shift the way our lives will work, at least for now, and keep ourselves and those we care about as safe as possible.

USD Community Responds
The USD community’s response to providing care and compassion for students has been evident in just these last few weeks: Donations for the USD Food Pantry and Torero Closet. The alumni-led chain of Bartell Hotels has provided a discounted rate for families who are staying in town while helping students pack up their things. Associated Students Government has been a strong voice for students’ needs to be heard by the administration. ASG senators last week voted to re-allocate funds to support Student Affairs’ efforts with hardship students for travel costs to get home, technology needs for online classes and getting USD trams to take students to the San Diego airport and train station.

Steps USD officials have taken in recent weeks are the result of constant communication among top thought leaders with valuable input from students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents and families. Much has been done, much has been decided. But a pandemic is all about adjustment on the fly.

That’s why the best USD resource for information pertaining to COVID-19 is placed on a website, The newest and archived campus communications can be found there regarding priority items such as student relocation and special resources, answers to students' frequently asked questions, updates on the pandemic, financial-oriented questions, the move to mandatory remote teaching and more. There are links to broader sources related to the virus, such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, San Diego County and California Department of Public Health, USD’s Student Health Center, International Center and Information Technology Services.

Finding Calm Amidst Chaos
While it may be hard to imagine presently, we will endure, both individually and collectively. A recent communication University Ministry shared with the campus community was moving and ever-so pertinent in these tempestuous times:

“Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
you can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
the sky is no longer thick with fumes
but blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
people are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighborhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homelessness, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality:
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
the birds are singing again.
The sky is clearing.
Spring is coming.
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
and though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

— Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM

It is our hope that, as the campus turns to remote teaching and online learning this Monday, students can resume their educational experience and aided by quality instruction from faculty who are equally adapting to this situation. Together, though, much is possible.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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