These have been turbulent times for all of us. I would like to thank all members of the Lawrence community—your patience, ingenuity, and suggestions are helping us transition to distance learning and helping us do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. These have been challenging times for all of us. Guidance on how to address the spread of COVID-19 changes daily, sometimes hourly. This morning, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm issued a safer at home order.
I write today to share with you information on how the University will continue with this new order in effect. The safer at home order urges Wisconsinites to limit travel to essentials only—trips to stores and pharmacies for necessary supplies, and for medical care. It also limits business activity to essential services. Because of the nature of Lawrence, especially since we are still responsible for a residential community, much of our work remains in the essential category by definition. We have already taken steps to ensure that our University is doing its best to mitigate the spread of the virus. Many faculty and staff who are able to do so are already working from home. We are using digital tools to limit in-person meetings. And custodial services have been redeployed to high-traffic areas of the campus. To free custodial colleagues for this important work we have closed offices and buildings wherever possible.
The Governor asks that we remain in our homes or dorm rooms as much as possible. Faculty and staff who have not fully migrated to home for their campus office should make plans to do so now. Staff should check in with supervisors to make sure we provide appropriate accommodations to ensure work can continue without being physically present on campus. Essential employees who will continue to work on campus are to follow all precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. If special identification of essential employees becomes necessary, Human Resources will issue such identification. At this time, there is no local requirement of special identification.
We are focused on ensuring continuity of Lawrence’s operations and functions so that we may continue to deliver on our educational mission. Shared Governance continues to operate, with faculty committees actively addressing policy issues from instruction to curriculum. Many departments continue the work of hiring, tenure, and promotion. LUCC leadership is working to adjust its meeting processes and will continue to represent students. Core functions in all operational divisions continue and a COVID-19 management team meets daily to handle Lawrence’s ongoing response to this situation.
As we work to adhere to our new statewide guidance and prepare for Spring Term, I want to take a moment to remind us all that our bonds as Lawrentians will endure. Community is a hallmark of the Lawrence experience. I mourn the loss of the vibrancy of the Spring Term. While it will be different, we must find ways of sustaining our social connection in these difficult times, including connections via social media, electronic gatherings, or other virtual means.
In this spirit of social solidarity, I took a moment yesterday to record a short video to share my thoughts with the Lawrence community as we adjust to the many changes in our lives. As I say in the video, we promise to update our social media accounts frequently to give you a sense of what’s happening on campus. We hope that you share your experiences with us as well. Please also feel free to contact me via email or telephone to share your suggestions and ideas or just to hang out. These connections will make us stronger as a community and as individuals.
As the virus progresses, more operational changes will be necessary. The COVID-19 blog will be updated as soon as any change is made. The LU Insider will now come out twice a week to summarize those changes as well as provide other information about our community. And, of course, continue to check email.
I have faith we will weather this crisis together as we have before. Homer, David, and I look forward to having you all back on campus soon.
Be well and make choices that keep others well,
President, Lawrence University