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🟢 Green Phase on Campus - June 26, 2020 Message from the President

by James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President Jun 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

Nothing is small in the service of God.

St. Francis de Sales

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for being so flexible, resilient, and adaptable these past few months.  My gratitude is vast for the spirit of cooperation all have exhibited as we continue to navigate our shared mission in the rough waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unquestionably, you have helped to make us ready for anything. 

Today, we move to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s declared green phase—a favorite color (not because it includes my last name!), for it points to hope and signals rebirth, renewal, and balance.  As with any new birth, there are necessary and painful developmental stages we must pass through in order to mature and grow.  The Jesuit priest-paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, said it so beautifully: 

We are quite naturally impatient in everything, to reach the end without delay.  We should like to skip the intermediate stages.  We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability.  

In this spirit, I write to share how we will gradually return to work on campus in this green phase.  As we move forward, we will continue to exercise adaptability and flexibility as we encounter new challenges and uncertainties. Again, I commend and thank us for the way we are adjusting to a new-normal.

First and foremost, the green phase does not give us a green light to simply return to our campus as it was in mid-March.  Nor, would we want this.  The priority in our return to campus is the safety, health, and wellbeing of each community member.  For the summer months, in dialogue with your supervisor, please determine whether to continue your work from home or return to campus.  Or, similar to our instructional delivery, perhaps you can arrange a blend of an at-home/on-campus approach to work.  Also, beginning today there is no need to seek approval for a quick trip to campus for files, textbooks, or other items as long as you adhere to wearing your facial mask and social distancing.

Second, our COVID-19 Task Force is finalizing guidelines to address concerns and questions about returning to work on campus, including a policy for requesting to work remotely after the summer months.  These will be outlined in a forthcoming document.  The primary goal of our policies and protocols continues to focus on minimizing the spread of COVID-19 knowing it may not be possible to guarantee a completely COVID-19-free environment.  Because of this uncertainty, we recognize you may have questions about preparing to resume on-campus operations.  

Following guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), I have appointed Jerry Joyce, executive vice president, as our campus liaison for all issues pertaining to these matters.  Please do not hesitate to connect with him about any concerns or questions.

Third, anyone who will be on campus for work, beginning today, must adhere to these essential behaviors advocated by the CDC: 

  • proper wearing of a facial mask in public places, 
  • social distancing,
  • frequent hand washing, and
  • regular self-monitoring for symptoms.  

Marc Albanese, vice president for campus environment, can assist anyone in need of a mask or a face shield and has begun to place kiosks with hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes in campus buildings to help us stay as germ-free as possible.   

Finally, I am eager to welcome you back to campus, but the green phase still requires us to adhere to guidelines from the PDECDC, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  In addition, we are consulting with Upper Saucon township officials per these above guidelines.

In closing, I repeat a common quote of St. Francis de Sales that seems appropriate for these matters: “Nothing is small in the service of God.”  Whether washing our hands and wearing a facial covering or teaching behind plexiglass and working from home, we are serving God and thwarting a life-threatening virus.  I understand these changes in our behavior may annoy or inconvenience us, but they can—and will—bring us to a new season of hope, replete with rebirth, renewal, and balance.

Please join me in praying for those struggling with the impact of this pandemic.

James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President