Registraring in a Crisis

Y2K, SARS, COVID-19 are all scary events that I have had the privilege of being a Registrar through. I’m on a response team for my university, and here is what I’ve both heard and offered to my team about dealing with things like this:

Lead. As Mr. Rogers’ mother famously told him, “Look for the helpers.” Our staff, students, and faculty, are looking for direction in difficult times. Be available, be visible, be like the chief health officer of British Columbia, Bonnie Henry.

Share. When people are hoarding toilet paper and re-selling sanitization supplies for double the cost online, now is the time to share with each other. The BC Registrars Association has been excellent at giving each other updates on our plans and actions during this COVID-19 crisis.

Act. We need to act in such a way that the most vulnerable people are top of mind and the first to be protected. Now is not the time for bravado. Saying to someone, “I’m not afraid to shake hands!” reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how viruses spread. We must remind people that this is not about being brave, but about protecting those who may not survive if exposed to the virus. Review your policies with this in mind and remove things that could be incentives for students to act in ways that could spread the risk. For example, at TWU, we are actively seeking ways to improve our online services so that students are not required to do anything face-to-face. (We’re not there yet, but working at it.)

Trust. Remind people to act in good faith, and expect that students will act in good faith. If they say they are sick, accept their claim without expecting them to get a doctor’s note. The country of Italy has traced their outbreak of COVID-19 to one man who went in and out of a hospital Emergency at least 3 times and in the process exposed many people to the virus. Trust your students.

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