COVID-19 Update from AST President, Neale Bennet.
To the AST community:
I remember so clearly where I was on September 11, 2001 and I suspect March 13, 2020 will be etched in my memory in much the same way. That day, the Prime Minister of Canada began to outline measures that brought home to me in new and stark terms the reality of the Covid-19 situation. Ten days later, so much has changed.
Families and individuals across Canada are restricted to their homes. Universities and other organizations have moved to working remotely. Many people in every sector have been laid off from their jobs. Students, faculty, and staff at universities across the country have been disrupted in their work and in their lives. In my own small family, all of us are now working remotely – three in the same house.
Many of us are anxious for loved ones, family members and ourselves. I have aging parents and other family members in high-risk categories and I can understand this concern.
My prayers are with all of you as we continue to navigate this very challenging time. Thank you for your kindness, compassion and everything you are doing to make it a little easier for those around you, especially those who are most vulnerable. As many others have said, even though we must remain physically apart, we will get through this together.
To me, the presence and inspiration of our loving God is so evident in the midst of this crisis. People around the world are searching for meaning, reaching out to each other with love and support, and creating community in authentic, innovative and deeply spiritual ways. At AST, we shape faithful and effective leaders who lead this kind of process and enable this kind of community. Such leaders are needed now and will be needed after this pandemic is over.
Thank you to our students for your patience and adaptability, to our library staff for supporting students through to the end of term, and to our residents, who have been displaced by public health directives to reduce university residence occupancy as much and as quickly as possible.
Thank you to the team which has been managing our response to COVID-19. In just one week we have:
- Moved to working remotely, carrying on all the administrative functions of a university from our respective homes.
- Provided updates and other communications on a regular basis to members of the community far and wide.
- Set up isolation units in campus facilities in case residents have to self-isolate.
- Coordinated on a daily basis with other universities, the community college and the Province.
- Kept the campus clean and disinfected while urging all to comply with public health directives.
- Developed a process to learn from the outcomes of our decisions in real time, making plans for how to manage this and other situations like it in the future.
AST has now moved to a virtual environment. Staff and faculty members are working from home, with the exception of essential staff who need to be on campus and students in residence who are unable to leave due to exceptional circumstances. The school is closed to all members of the public.
Thank you to our faculty for transitioning to a fully online learning environment overnight. As a result, this academic year is not in jeopardy. Those students who are eligible to graduate this year can rest assured that they will graduate and receive their diplomas and degrees. Summer and Fall terms, and those that follow, will go forward – perhaps looking a little different than usual.
In the midst of many very urgent decisions last week, AST deferred decisions about Convocation and the Gala Dinner. Please be assured that we are working diligently through our priorities and will have updates on these events as soon as possible.
Please continue to check your email regularly in the days and weeks ahead. We will also continue to share updates through our webpage and AST social media channels.
Thank you again to all of you for your patience and compassion during this difficult time. In all of the uncertainty, I am sure of one thing – the resilience and strength of our faithful community will carry us forward as we move through this together.
God be with you my friends.
Rev. Canon Neale Bennet