Letter from Dean Petty

March 07, 2020

Dear Students, 

I am reaching out today to express my and GW’s continued support for each of you in our GW community as we deal with a rapidly evolving global health situation.  

We understand that it can be very concerning when each and every day brings a new development as we confront COVID-19, a novel coronavirus. For many of you, it is also worrisome to know that you, your family and friends could encounter the virus. 

The best advice that I can give to all of you is to prioritize your health and wellbeing with simple but powerful habits like getting enough sleep (difficult, I know), washing your hands for 20 seconds, and covering your cough.

Check in on one another. We all need to take care of each other during a time like this. If we use sensible precautions and exercise good judgement, we can all get through this, together. 

There are no confirmed cases here in the District. Though with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 growing nation-wide, we are still seeing and hearing old rumors that the virus is being transmitted within certain communities. I want to remind all of you that the CDC as well as our own public health experts here at GW, assure us that there is no reason to suspect any member of our community of having this virus solely on the basis of actual or perceived national origin. 

In these uncertain times, each of us have a role to play in helping ourselves and our fellow community members.

We each have an important role in protecting the vulnerable people in our communities. Some people are more at risk for complications with COVID-19 because of underlying health issues. Be intentional, take stock of your behavior, and make choices to keep yourself and those around you healthy. 

We can also recognize when someone else may need help but for whom asking for it may be difficult. Your fellow classmates or peers may be struggling to process all of the news and information they are seeing and/or receiving. If a friend, classmate or peer is personally affected, please encourage them to use the Colonial Health Center’s 24/7 phone counseling services. Additionally, please submit a CARE report so we can provide them with outreach and support.

You also have a responsibility to assess yourself. If you are feeling ill, stay home and rest. During this time, faculty have been given guidance to be to be flexible when excusing students from class for medical reasons and to not require a doctor’s note. Please email your professors to discuss any absence and also reach out to your advising office for more guidance, if needed. If you are not feeling well, we suggest that you call the Colonial Health Center first, and do not walk-in. A medical professional is available to talk to by phone 24/7 by calling: 202-994-5300.  Sometimes, a quick phone call to a medical professional is the best way to learn about one’s symptoms or non-symptoms. 

As we continue to plan for and monitor the path of COVID-19, please know that all of us at GW are thinking of you, your friends and your families, friends, and we are committed to providing the support you need during this difficult time. 

Together, we Raise High,

Dean Petty