Message to Students, Faculty, and Staff—COVID-19 Update (April 7, 2020)

To students, faculty, and staff,

We began this week knowing the news around COVID-19 would get worse. Today, New York reported the deadliest day yet from the disease, while here in Maine, the number of confirmed cases climbed above 500. There are also, however, some hopeful signs, in particular that New York may have reached its peak. 

As I noted in my message on Friday, the sudden changes to basic aspects of our lives—including the necessity for social distancing and isolation, moving our students off campus, and the shift to remote learning—create significant emotional stress for everyone. Unfortunately, this will likely continue for some time. Please give yourself permission to acknowledge that there is an emotional toll that comes with navigating this unprecedented moment. Please make sure you devote time to taking care of yourself, emotionally and physically. And please do what you can to help family and friends who may need assistance managing these issues. There are a number of resources at the College that are available to assist you in these efforts. They are offered on our social media channels, on YouTube, and on the web, and there’s something for just about everyone. For example:

  • The counseling services webpage offers links to specific resources based on need, including some tips for managing the stress, anxiety, and isolation caused by the pandemic.

  • Human resources maintains a “Health and Wellness” webpage with links to both internal and external resources, while Peer Health publishes a weekly wellness newsletter. Subscribe here.

  • Sunday Stretches” is a YouTube program put together by Bowdoin athletic trainers. Episode one helps you set up a proper workstation at home with an eye toward avoiding injuries.

  • “Mindful Mondays” on Bowdoin’s Instagram channel features weekly tips from one of our wellness experts.

  • On Fridays, Kate Nicholson, our assistant director of student wellness programs, offers morning yoga classes on Facebook (9:30–11:00 a.m.) and “Stress Less” classes on mindfulness via Zoom (11:00 a.m.).

  • “Senior Conversation Groups” are staff-facilitated opportunities for the Class of 2020 to connect on Zoom around their own set of stressors, concerns, and experiences. (Contact Eduardo Pazos to participate.)

  • Zoom is also being used to connect Bowdoin alumni with current Bowdoin students for weekly meditation sessions. They start this Thursday (4/9) at 5:30 p.m. (Contact Megan Retana ’19 or Benjamin Felser ’22 if you want to sign up.)

  • Leah Matari ’20, who serves on the residential life staff, has set up evening Zoom sessions to keep students connected and even created an “All Things Bowdoin” crossword puzzle to get our minds off the news. Can you complete it?
I urge you to take advantage of anything here that you think can be helpful. None of us has experienced a moment like this, and no one should be without help or have to go it alone. Also, if you have a suggestion for a resource, please let the dean for student affairs office or human resources know.
Finally, as I noted on Friday, we haven’t yet decided about the summer on campus. However, we have decided—reluctantly—that the College will not be sponsoring international travel over the summer for students, faculty, or staff. This aligns with the advice issued by both the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control for international travel, and we believe it is the best way to protect members of the Bowdoin community and to prevent students, faculty, or staff from situations where they could be barred from reentering the US. I know this will come as a disappointment for many of you, and I am sorry that it has become necessary.

My best to all of you as you continue to care for yourselves and each other.

Please be safe.