Good morning everyone, a fair number of detailed items today.
There are several notable updates on the university’s main COVID page here. All summer courses are now moved to virtual delivery, graduate and undergraduate, across summer sessions and intersession. Graduate admissions has now become test-optional as happened last week with undergraduate admissions. There are now 9 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Seattle University community
Remember to act as if you have the virus when you come to campus, check with me ahead of time and minimize your time there. While essential staff employees still working on campus (e.g., public safety) are getting checked for fever and other symptoms daily, we do not yet have any symptom check protocols for faculty or other staff who visit campus. Most of you are taking the campus restrictions seriously. I appreciate that, it is good for everyone and I ask everyone to follow suit. We may be at the end of the beginning, we are not near the end. Ignoring the restrictions jeopardizes yourself and others, especially those over 60, who constitute 25% of all cases but 91% of all deaths in Washington state, as of today in the Seattle Times.
The Student Health Center will be rolling out limited COVID-19 testing on campus, in A&S space. This is planned to occur in Kinesiology’s Human Performance Lab in the Hunthausen basement, because they have space that is designed for medical activities such as blood draws. I appreciate this commitment by Kinesiology to the greater good of our campus community. More information will be shared soon with the university community but keep in mind that testing supplies remain very limited, so a prioritization of testing requests will be in place.
All faculty have received a Redhawk SOAR survey to confirm which students have not logged in, or shown up to classes last week, please respond. The surveys will be open through next weekend. We really need faculty to complete these so that Student Persistence can outreach to students we have a better sense of spring enrollments.
The University is receiving and supporting financial support requests from students. James Willette received 40-45 financial aid requests last week that he is reviewing prior to sending on to Jeff Scofield in SFS. All have been given some kind of financial support. These requests range from needing a text book to needing tuition/rent assistance. Some are continuing concerns while others are new. SU is eligible for CARES federal funds - a group led by Melore Nielsen will be figuring out how to access the funds and distribute them to students.
Clearer guidance on teaching reviews for tenure and promotion coming soon. FSS pointed out that now that we have university guidance, we need to develop guidance promptly. The next email I send out will be to the College Rank and Tenure and Senior Instructor promotion committees to ask for their recommendations on how to proceed, first for this quarter and then for the longer term. The most pressing issue is faculty who are applying for tenure or promotion in the coming year, the two longer term issues I see are a) developing guidelines for how to consider this time for reviews beyond next year and b) developing review guidelines for online teaching. Fortunately regarding point b), we now have several cases across the college where peer review of teaching has occurred for fully online courses that have been running in graduate programs and summer courses for a few years now. I have reviewed several tenure and promotion files that included peer reviews of fully online courses. I will follow up to see where those have been done and believe we should reach out to those faculty and CDLI to think about guidelines for quality peer review of online courses.
There is cautious optimism among local health officials but we clearly need to continue social distancing measures to various degrees through what we hope will be improved contact tracing, until an effective vaccine is widely distributed. See Seattle Times article here.
Mike Myint update: Mike talks from his perspective about Trump’s plan to cut off WHO funding.
The United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), Globalism and Pandemics
The Covid-19 crisis has pointed out more than any other time in our lifetimes, the inter-relation with global public health and the global economy. We have been and are at a point where our choices put these interests in opposition or in synchrony.
The WHO was founded from the United Nations with the goal for "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health." I have pointed out in a prior post, the folly of 50 independent state strategies in the US for fighting C19. It would be similarly non-sensical for there to be 195 independent country strategies for C19. The WHO and other NGOs are the bridge to bring experts together and form playbooks that can be executed and supported on the ground, especially in resource poor parts of the globe.
Diseases where WHO has made a huge difference included smallpox (eradicated), polio, HIV/AIDS, and most recently Ebola - which I commented on yesterday. Like any agency, it exists in a complex political and funding climate which brings inevitable politics into its actions. I won't support or criticize here its relationship to China in this pandemic, but understanding that like all UN agencies, it operates in a complex geo-political and economic climate. I think that not being able to acknowledge the fantastic work that Taiwan has done on controlling this pandemic is a consequence of those negative externalities.
Given global inequities in economic and health resources, the WHO is funded by those countries who can afford to do so and disproportionately assists those countries in need. Ultimately given that diseases do not respect national borders, there are significant benefits to all parties, far beyond the relatively small budget lines the WHO currently receives. Its budget of about 3 billion USD is a small investment in preventing global diseases that may lead to global instability which may then lead to immense suffering not just from disease but also famine and war that can result from uncontrolled epidemics. The worldwide economic crisis, which may have been mitigated with early coordinated responses, is slowly revealing how inter-dependent and intertwined global public health and the global economy is.
Locally in the US, the WHO guidance on C19 has been more helpful here in Washington initially than the guidance from the CDC for those organizations and states initially addressing this pandemic. This especially applied when our resources became constrained with the worldwide supply chain disruptions with C19. Frankly, the CDC guidance was not doable and built on the premise of access to supplies that were not available. This crisis has shown the WHO and the CDC to be fallible like the humans and nations that comprise them. Having both allows for a more robust global discussion and necessary debates on complex diseases like C19.
I can't say it better than my fellow Seattleite Bill Gates. “Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds...Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.” Recall that in 1918, the states that had earlier and longer physical distancing and other public health interventions did better economically in the following years. We can and should choose synchrony vs opposition for public health and economic interests.