When Coronavirus Popped the Franklin Bubble: Where do we go from here?
Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin. There’s really no way I could have avoided writing about this topic, so here it is. I wanted to provide a quick summary of everything Coronavirus related that impacted FUS in the past 10 days or so. From the outbreak and cases in Lombardy, all the way to the Academic Travel decision, here’s how we got to this point.
21 February – 23 February: First major outbreak of the Coronavirus in Europe, located in Lombardy.
23 February: President Warden writes a letter. No need to panic. Franklin will follow the recommendations from cantonal authorities. Classes for Monday February 24 are cancelled. A decision will be made about classes for the rest of the week. The university remains open. No documented cases in Ticino at the time. Students and staff in Lombardy asked to stay in their homes.
24 February 2020: Dean SSB (also the Vice President) writes a letter. Cantonal authorities decide not to take restrictive measures. No confirmed cases in Ticino. Classes will be held for the rest of the week.
25 February 2020: Dean SSB releases another letter. First case of Coronavirus in Ticino with a 70-year-old man. Contained case, there is no need for additional precautions. President’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, March 3 to make decision on Academic Travel.
26 February 2020: Dr. Robinson, an infectious disease specialist and father of a Franklin student, sends a message. Dr Robinson calls for us to look at the Coronavirus with some perspective. Coronavirus captures the headlines because of its rapid spread and novel nature and yet diseases like Influenza are just as prevalent and deadly. He advises to avoid large groups of people when viruses are spreading in the community, eat well, sleep a lot, stay put, study hard and get good grades.
26 February 2020: Letter from Dean SSB. The 70-year-old man infected with the virus is recovering and will be discharged. Situation is stable. FUS evaluating the possibility of cancelling Academic Travel trips as a precautionary measure. President’s Cabin will make the final decision on March 3.
All letters and messages to this point found at: https://www.fus.edu/services/health/coronavirus-information-and-updates
27 February 2020. Follow up letter from Dean SSB. Canton prevents school travel outside of Switzerland. FUS Academic Travel courses will be kept on campus. There will be special sessions on campus during the weeks Academic Travel was going to have taken place.
This letter found at in its entirety at: https://www.fus.edu/news-events/news/1103-coronavirus-update-canton-ticino-prevention-measures
So that’s how we got here. These past 10 days or so been very odd and fragmented. There were no classes last Monday and many people did not show up even after classes resumed. Yes, students were told that travel may not happen, but it seemed more of a cautionary tale than an inevitable reality. Many students only began to believe that we would not travel when… well when we were told yesterday that travel courses would be kept on campus. We often talk about the “Franklin bubble” meaning things happen, but we live in our little world here at Franklin, unconcerned and unaffected. The Coronavirus has definitely popped the Franklin bubble.
This situation sucks, no doubt about that. Academic Travel is one of the most fun and exciting times in the semester. Those who have been on travel absolutely love it. Many of my fondest memories from Franklin have been over travel. People come to and in some cases, stay at FUS because of Academic Travel.
I want to end with a reminder that in testing times, we all must consider our actions.
Firstly, the situation evolves everyday, and a degree of transparency must be maintained. Information can provide clarity and perspective. The university has released/will release updates with answers to some of the larger questions, such as: who made the decision? what will we do exactly during the allotted time period for travel? will the money/supplement we put into travel be returned or used in other ways? As new information becomes available, there is no doubt that we will have more questions and we will need more answers. Nonetheless, maintaining a communication channel is essential in difficult times.
Secondly, actions do speak louder than words, but we must ensure that what we put out there will contribute in a positive manner. Our time, energy and actions must work toward solutions, rather than spreading hate. Let's make the most of this unprecedented situation. Also remember, the show must go on. There are still midterms to take, and a week of activities to follow that. Try to stay positive and Carpe diem.