Divinity Student Update

From Dr. Shonda Jones

March 14, 2020

Dear Divinity Students,

I hope you are well and taking care of yourselves.

By now you have received multiple messages regarding the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As divinity students, we recognize that you may have additional questions or specific needs that go beyond the general messaging that has gone out to all students, and we want to highlight some items of critical importance.

Remote Delivery of Courses and Internship Responsibilities

Divinity School Faculty will be in touch with students about expectations in preparation of classes resuming remotely on March 23. If you have issues with Wi-Fi or connectivity remotely, you are encouraged to use the graduate student lounge in ZSR. If you have a specific challenge related to being able to access your courses remotely, you are encouraged to contact the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) for all accommodations, including lack of connectivity and hardware. It is possible that some students may need to seek connectivity at a local library or other places that offer free WiFi. If you are a Student Research Assistant or if you have responsibilities on research projects or internships, please report to your faculty director and/or supervisor for instructions on how to proceed with your work as already outlined in an email from Dr. John Senior.

Campus Resources Available 

Though course material will be delivered remotely, we recognize that you may plan to stay in Winston-Salem. As of today, campus remains open primarily for faculty and staff to continue working on-site, but students should initially be in contact with faculty and staff through virtual methods such as email, phone, and video-conferencing. Students need not return to campus unless necessary, and should not travel to campus for a need that can be met remotely. We anticipate that students will still be able to access Student Health Services, Wellbeing Center, the ZSR Library, Learning Assistance Center, and campus buildings.  Note that access to Wingate Hall and classrooms will require your ID Card. It is important to know that if you are experiencing any illness or symptoms, you should not come to campus. Please note that students should not plan to host parties or social gatherings that challenge “social distancing” in any way, whether on or off campus.

Travel Update Regarding Europe and Cruises

Previously, you received messages reminding that all students, faculty or staff returning from countries with Level 2 and 3 travel health notices or from a cruise should not return to campus without first completing a 14-day self-isolation period without developing symptoms of COVID-19. CDC instructions for self-isolation and symptom monitoring can be found here.  Please regularly review information from the Center for Disease Control. Currently the following is advised related to travel:

  • CDC Level 3 health notice: do not return to campus and complete a 14-day self-isolation period
  • CDC Level 2 health notice: monitor health and limit interactions with others
  • Cruise ship travel: Monitor your health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel. This may include the recommendation to self isolate for 14 days before returning to campus

If you develop any symptoms, seek medical evaluation. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room to prevent the spread of infection. All students, faculty or staff returning from travel abroad or areas in the United States should complete a Travel Reporting Form so that the university can provide guidance regarding appropriate health care and other decisions.

Symptoms of COVID-19 and Keeping Yourself Safe

Current symptoms have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.There are reports of coronavirus spreading in North Carolina; including in Forsyth County (where Wake Forest’s main campus is located) and in Mecklenburg County (where the WFU Charlotte Center is located). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Practice social distancing (avoiding crowded places). Follow established good clearing practices in your home or apartment, particularly if you share your space with others.The CDC has guidance on what to do if you are sick and how to stop the spread of germs.

Roommates/Housemates and Self-Isolation or Self-Monitoring

You may be in a living situation where you have a roommate or housemate or family members and will be sharing common areas such as bathrooms or kitchens. It will be especially important to keep your living space as clean as possible. Please see the CDC recommendations for cleaning households.

You may have a roommate or housemate or family member who could have been exposed to COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to a known or suspected case of COVID-19 at any point, please contact the Forsyth County Health Department, the Student Health Service, or your primary health care provider. You should remain at home until you have received instructions on what to do from health authorities.  If you need medical attention, call the Student Health Service (336-758-5218) or your primary care physician BEFORE going to the office and report that you have been exposed to COVID-19. If you have traveled to an area with widespread community transmission of the coronavirus that causes this illness, you should self-isolate for 14 days after returning from travel. This means:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during this time.
  • Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  • Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

If you are asked by the health department or your physician to self-monitor, you should follow the self-isolation protocols above, AND you should take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing. Report any temperature, cough, or trouble to the health department or your physician so they can provide more guidance.

Seek medical attention if you experience fever, cough or difficulty breathing. It is recommended that those who think they may have been exposed call ahead before going to the Student Health Service, your primary care physician or an emergency room.

If your roommate or housemate becomes ill, follow the CDC guidance on household members.

All events, including Worship and Community Lunch, will be postponed until further notice.

  • We are anticipating that further restrictions will soon be imposed on gatherings and we do not want to violate the movement to suppress the spread of the virus.

  • SLC and Student organizations are encouraged to explore options for virtual gatherings.

  • Co-curricular activities may be offered remotely so look for email updates.

Lease Agreements with Off-Campus Housing

For divinity students living in WFU Properties, we anticipate that all normal services for your residence (e.g., custodial, pest control, and maintenance) will take place. While the University is moving to remote instruction and it is unknown at this time when classes will return to an in-person format, any lease obligations with either WFU properties or private parties remain in place and students are not expected to break those contractual obligations unless they decide to do so for personal reasons.

Student Emergency Funds

If you have a specific and unique emergency as a result of the pandemic, we may be able to provide financial assistance. Students can seek financial assistance from the Chaplain’s Emergency Fund. This fund is set up to assist in times of financial hardship.  Limited funds are available. Please read the Guiding Principles of the Fund. Contact the Office of the Chaplain for further information at 336.758.5210.

Students may also want to seek assistance from the School of Divinity by completing this form.

Where to Find Information

The best place to find information on Wake Forest’s response to coronavirus is at coronavirus.wfu.edu. This is a living document and it changes as new information is gained. You may also submit a question via our online form.

Beloved, know that as a School of Divinity community we are still bonded together though from afar. The precautions we are taking is but a glimpse of our community doing our part to minimize the spread of fear and disease in our local communities, nation, and the world.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we begin the journey of listening, learning, and engaging from our various remote locations beginning March 23. Should you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to contact me or email divinity@nullwfu.edu. I pray you remain safe and healthy as we continue to learn together in the days ahead.