By President Emerita Judie Wexler March 27, 2020
Dear CIIS Community,
It was two weeks ago today that we at CIIS moved all of our classes into webinar format. Three days later, on March 16, six Bay Area counties issued their shelter-in- place order, followed by a seventh shortly thereafter.
These weeks have been very eventful as we have all been striving to adapt to the news about COVID-19, to new standards of cleanliness, to maintaining physical distance without creating social isolation, to working from home, to having children going to school from home, and to learning new technology. As I sit with members of this community in Zoom meetings and gatherings, I have been amazed and heartened by the ongoing commitment to our students and community. There have been so many acts of generosity as we learn together.
The commitment of faculty and staff to maintaining high-quality education for the students is clear. Classes have continued on time, even though the Internet has periods of slowness. The regular work of the University has also been able to continue in a way that can be counted upon. Thank you all for making this happen.
We hope that all the efforts to flatten the curve are successful and that we will be able to return to face-to-face interaction over the next months. In making decisions, we hold two things in the foreground:
- Support quality education for our students.
- Keep members of our community safe.
We have decided to continue in the virtual space through Spring semester 2020. We plan to begin Summer semester with virtual webinars, but it may be possible to move to face-to-face classes. We will make that decision based on the best public health advice we can obtain about what will keep this community safe. Because none of us knows how the pandemic is going to proceed, we are planning for both eventualities for fall semester: face-to-face classes or virtual webinars.
My thanks to faculty who are sharing ideas, tips, and approaches to teaching online. Please check the faculty Canvas page for postings. Thanks also to the programs and students who are figuring out how to maintain community online using Zoom and many other platforms. We want to continue our commitment to the whole person, especially in these difficult times.
Planning for graduation was well advanced when the pandemic began. Unfortunately, we cannot bring 1,400 people together in one location to celebrate on May 16. We will celebrate our graduates; we are still figuring out how best to do that. A survey will be going out shortly to ascertain their preferences.
I am so grateful to be part of this community and thankful for all you do to keep us moving forward. One of my favorite prayers has always been one that says we can only get from here to there by holding hands and moving together. As we keep holding virtual hands, we will move through this very challenging time together.