Dear John Carroll Students,
We are writing today to provide what we hope you will find to be useful information. We expect to be sending a similar academically-oriented message nearly every day.
These are turbulent times with much uncertainty, and we know that people do not typically deal with uncertainty very well. We will do our very best to give you answers to questions and provide good information. The situation is dynamic, so please be as patient with us as possible.
Why are John Carroll and many other universities eliminating face-to-face classes for a period of time?
Public health experts are working to reduce/eliminate large gatherings of people as well as implement social distancing, whereby people stay at least 6 feet away from each other when possible. The goal is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and dramatically alter the course of this pandemic. Eliminating in-person classes will help. Governor Mike DeWine spoke about this topic today in the press conference.
You might have heard the term “flattening the curve.” The blue curve on this website would be a rapid expansion of the pandemic, which seems to indicate that it shortens the time in which we will see a large number of infections. However, the dotted line is critical, as moving the number of people above this line will stress the nation’s health care system. Movement above this line is likely to coincide with a higher mortality rate as patients’ critical needs cannot be addressed. Also, people with other severe health conditions will experience more pain, suffering, and death. Social distancing and slowing the spread would produce the yellow curve. It might mean the pandemic is with us longer (be mindful that there are no dates given-it is relative), but the result is good nevertheless. This means the healthcare system is not overloaded, patients can be treated, and mortality rates go down significantly.
Will we have a vaccine?
Maybe, but vaccines take some time to develop. After all, you must make sure it is safe, as you are giving it to healthy people. The text above the dotted line begins with “How”. Draw a vertical line from the H in How down to the X-axis (which represents the amount of time the virus has been spreading). If this point where the vertical line meets the X-axis is the moment in time that a vaccine is developed and ready for the public, it doesn’t do us any good if the spread of COVID-19 resembles the blue curve. However, the yellow curve produced by social distancing, washing hands, etc., buys us time to deliver a vaccine or other anti-viral treatment. Once again, this means fewer people die.
I read that young people are not affected.
Early, limited studies show that COVID-19 exhibits higher mortality rate in elderly populations, those who have underlying cardiovascular issues, and immunocompromised individuals. Faculty, staff, family, and your fellow students fall into all these categories. In effect, you are trying to prevent suffering and/or death to people you know as well as those you have never met. Our society is trying to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, which will certainly have a disproportionately larger health and financial impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. We must do our part to limit this impact.
What should I do and not do?
Stay with me on this one. Go home and be relatively inactive. Try to limit your interactions with others and keep a 6-foot distance. This means parties and large social gatherings are a bad idea; they will contribute to increased viral spread and death (blue line, bad). Don’t shake hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (and do it more often!), and stay home if you are sick!! See the CDC for more recommendations (Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)). Your actions and inactions will help determine for how long universities have to suspend face-to-face classes. We want to see you back for final exams and departmental awards. President Johnson wants to hand your diploma to you (but you might prefer to give him a fist bump instead, just to be on the safe side--there are a lot of graduates!!).
Studying and performing well in your courses are important, so consider this situation an opportunity to earn better grades. Chances are you’ll pick up some skills essential to lifelong learning as well as getting used to working at a distance, which is likely to happen much more frequently in your professional life.
Study, go to class (virtually), read a book for fun, and binge watch your favorite show.
Your faculty are working hard to deliver academic content in an online format. You will be responsible for learning it. This method might be new to you as well as them, so please be patient with each other. Over-communicate rather than under-communicate during this period. If you are having problems with academics (material or format), communicate this to them. There are bound to be some bumps in the road that we can’t anticipate at this point. For instance, what will happen as most of the entire higher education system simultaneously goes online? What does this mean for networks?
Faculty may make adjustments to their syllabi to accommodate a move to online education. These may include (but are not limited to) the course schedule, assignments, due dates, course content, etc. At the same time, course learning goals will not change. Please contact your instructors if you have questions.
Synchronous vs asynchronous class
Synchronous lectures, whereby all students are simultaneously logged into the course, are not required. However, synchronous lectures must start and end at the normal course meeting time. For example, if your class meets MWF from 9:00-9:50 a.m. Eastern time according to the course schedule, your synchronous lecture time must also be MWF from 9:00-9:50 a.m. Be mindful of the time zone difference if you are leaving the Eastern time zone.
Asynchronous lectures (or other teaching styles), whereby you can log in to Canvas on your own and watch pre-recorded lectures, make comments on discussion boards, etc., may also be utilized by faculty. In fact, they may use both during this period, so please look to them for the method of instruction.
Office hours and meetings
There will be no in-person meetings on campus. Faculty and students can work together through Zoom (a Canvas-integrated software that allows video conferencing) and other methods (phone call, etc.). This is not a period of independent study; faculty will be available to answer questions and guide your learning as they normally would. Once again, they will explain how it will work best.
We will make sure students register for courses in the summer and fall semesters. Advisers may work with students via email, over the phone, via Zoom, or with Canvas tools (chat). There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some faculty have Canvas sites for this work, so you might get an email update or notification soon.
Library (thanks to Michelle Millet)
Grasselli Library is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Starting Monday, March 16, the building will be card-accessible only, so please bring your ID with you.
Email and Chat Reference: Our librarians will monitor email and chat reference during Library hours and email until 9:00 p.m.
At the moment, it is open. The internet works and computers are available in the Library. Please do not come to campus if you are feeling sick. Please check the JCU website, as this could change.
Counseling Center (thanks to Mark Onusko)
For now, the Counseling Center remains open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. They can provide their usual appointment-based, in-person counseling and psychiatry services to any students who are in the area (as long as they're not ill - in that case, please cancel your appointment!). Any students already out of the area can always call to schedule a phone consultation with a counselor, which will be focused on brief problem-solving and/or assisting the student in connecting with national resources or services local to them.
Final thoughts for today
You are part of the first generation of John Carroll graduates who will experience a core curriculum that includes intentional interdisciplinary work for all students. Consider how your major, courses, research, and community service could interact with this COVID-19 pandemic. Political Science; sociology; psychology; communications; history; theology & religious studies; peace, justice, & human rights; supply chain management; economics and every other discipline are just as relevant as biology, chemistry, data science, and computer science!
Dr. Mike Martin, Associate Dean of Sciences, Mathematics, & Health
Dr. Jim Krukones, Associate Academic Vice-President
Co-Chairs, Academic Continuity Working Group