March 14, 2020
As you may have seen, St. Lawrence County has just declared a state of emergency. Subsequently, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES and its 18 school districts have decided to close all schools in our county, effective from this Monday, March 16 through April 20 at the earliest. This was not an easy decision, and reflects the high level of caution that we as a nation and as a community must exercise in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
First, to all faculty and staff with school-aged children, we know that keeping them safe and healthy is of the utmost concern. The SUNY Potsdam Child Care Center remains open as of now, and the center’s dedicated staff are working diligently to create a plan in order to expand to full-day operations for its pre-school and school-age programs. We know, however, that many parents may not have other options. We are actively reaching out to SUNY for guidance, because of the real hardship this poses for working families.
Employees may use accruals following normal time and attendance policies and procedures, as we are waiting to hear if there will be any change to current New York State policies. In addition, an eligible employee can inquire about a voluntary reduction in work schedule (VRWS). Please contact Human Resources if you have questions or want to inquire about VRWS at (315) 267-4816 or email@example.com.
The closure of local schools will have a significant impact on our campus community, including faculty, staff and student teachers, on top of uncertain, rapidly-changing times. This pandemic will test us in many ways. The transition to distance learning and the cancellation or postponement of most events and activities for the remainder of the semester will be trying for us all.
Many faculty and staff have commented on feeling a deep sense of loss in not being able to interact and collaborate, with each other and with our students, as we always have. I know that we will find new and creative ways to teach and guide our students, and I so appreciate those of you who have taken on leadership roles in advising your colleagues and sharing best practices.
Others have shared their concerns about the impact that having fewer residential students and fewer visitors will have on our local businesses and organizations, and have expressed regret for our neighbors who so enjoy taking in our events and activities, and who add so much to our campus life with their presence.
Finally and most importantly, though, we are all worried for each other’s health and well-being. We are a family, after all. We can and will do what we must to protect each other. We will get through this. Thank you for being there for each other.
The faculty and staff meetings planned for Monday will be livestreamed so that everyone can take part, even if remotely. Please join us.
We will continue to share more updates in the coming days. For now, please know that I am grateful for your extraordinary efforts in the face of uncertainty. You make me proud every day to be a part of this community.
Kristin G. Esterberg, Ph.D.