Juniata Parents and Families –

Fall 2020 classes have begun, and I hope you’re receiving reports from your sons and daughters that their experience settling in and getting acclimated has been enjoyable. Of course, there is much involved in transitions, and in the current climate of pandemic change, levels of stress and anxiety can escalate. Campus resources committed to health, wellness and well-being are abundant; please encourage your student to seeking support from the Glaeser Counseling Center, residential life staff, faculty and staff mentors and advisors and others in our community. And additional reminders to practice self-care as they explore and engage social connections, physical activity, regular sleep and quality nourishment.

As we reflect on move-in, much appreciation is due to those who developed our Return to Campus plan, arranged for and coordinated the logistics of move-in, testing and response, and to the students and families who showed grace and patience and centered safety and community health by following newly established and (at times evolving) protocols. Through last week, the campus has performed 1649 COVID tests, through which we identified, isolated and are supporting 3 positive individuals as reflected by our COVID dashboard https://www.juniata.edu/coronavirus/. Establishing a baseline understanding of the health of our campus community presses our resolve to continue to leverage individual and collective accountability to our safety measures. Testing is a snapshot of a moment in time, but it is our adherence to protective behaviors that will set Juniata apart from other campuses where positive cases are surging, like UNC-Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, among others.

I’ve shared in past that the influence of parents and families in shaping student attitudes and behaviors is primary. This week, I hope that you will have a conversation with your son or daughter to reinforce their responsibility to their own health, to the health of other students, faculty and staff at Juniata, and to the College itself as they live out the semester. We are asking much of students: wearing masks in all interactions with others; limiting the size and duration of indoor gatherings (especially social gatherings); attention to sanitation of contact surfaces and hand-washing, especially; paying attention to emerging symptoms and seeking health consultation immediately; avoiding unnecessary travel and consulting on necessary travel. But these essential practices are what will allow us to remain on campus. Without them, a return to remote instruction is a real possibility that each of us would like to avoid.

Starting the week of August 24, students will be sequenced for additional testing on a go-forward basis as a part of our comprehensive testing and monitoring practice. Testing and identifying asymptomatic cases is essential to our Return to Campus plan, but the mitigating effects of personal protective behavior is an equally essential component. I ask that you please use your voice and influence to help support our plan, your student and our College. Many thanks in advance, Warm Eagle regards - cover your beak and wash your wings!

Matthew Damschroder, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students