Greetings, Saints - Happy Spirit Day!
Today marks the end of another successful week of teaching in our hybrid online and in-person formats. Thanks to the continued efforts of students, faculty and staff, our COVID-19 caseload continues to be manageable, even as our region has become more of a hotspot.
As we announced Wednesday, the College has moved to Level 2 - Medium Alert, as positive cases have risen to just above 1%. With this new distinction, gatherings will be limited to 10 or fewer people. This is out of an abundance of caution as we seek to do everything possible to keep our community safe and finish out the semester together, in person. Thank you for your continued efforts to follow our safety guidelines!
I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Storm's Advocates, our student peer health educators, who are making care packages for students entering quarantine or isolation. The packages include a coloring kit, a craft activity, and some snacks. The idea is to let the students know that they are not alone, and that other students are thinking of them. Michelle Ruszat Klee is helping to facilitate this initiative - please contact her for more information if you'd like to lend a hand.
I would also like to recognize Dana Moore for going the extra mile to help our students in isolation and quarantine to feel welcomed and supported. She helps get them settled in and follows up with them continuously. She has even brought in treats for students celebrating their birthdays! Thank you to Dana and all who are living out our values through their actions.
In the news
You may have seen that St. Scholastica was mentioned over the weekend in this Duluth News Tribune article examining the role that colleges play in the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area. Chris Sandal and Julie Zaruba Fountaine did a great job of explaining what we are seeing on campus, underscoring how our students are following our Safe Return plans to keep themselves and each other safe. As colleges across the country are being identified as the cause of increased COVID-19 cases in their communities, we can expect to see more of this type of media coverage in the future. We can take it as an opportunity to share our story and highlight what we are doing right!
WDIO-TV Channel 10 ran a follow-up story about our move to Alert Level 2. The story emphasized how we are limiting social gatherings out of an abundance of caution. Thanks to Safety and Security Manager Mike Turner for working with their reporter!
Home for Homecoming
I hope you'll get a chance to participate in some of this year's virtual Home for Homecoming activities! Special thanks to the creative folks in our Alumni Engagement office for putting together some innovative opportunities for members of our community to build connections. Their efforts attracted the attention of KBJR-TV Channel 6 this week. There are lots of activities lined up this weekend - here is a full schedule of events. We hope to see you online!
One of the College's treasured, long-standing events, Advent Vespers and Lighting a Tradition, is usually held on the first Tuesday of Advent, traditionally the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Plans are underway to continue with these events, even if only in a virtual format. More information will be shared later. I wanted you to simply be aware that in this time we want and need to continue to embrace our familiar traditions, even if they look different.
Honors for athletes
The College of St. Scholastica Athletics Department has recently been accepted into the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society. Chi Alpha Sigma is the first, and only, national scholar-athlete society to honor four-year collegiate student-athletes who have excelled in both the classroom and in athletic competition. The society provides outstanding student-athletes with an opportunity to become connected within a national association that aligns their educational and athletic successes. Athletes can become eligible for membership into the society by receiving a varsity letter in their sport, achieving at least a 3.4 grade point average and displaying excellent character and citizenship.
Support Storm's Cupboard
It's always a good time to donate to Storm's Cupboard, but there's a special focus on our campus food shelf for the whole month of October. Several student groups are teaming up to host a food drive and raise awareness about food insecurity. You can drop off non-perishables for Storm's Cupboard from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Student Union throughout October. Please visit css.edu/hunger to learn about the resources available to students.
In case you missed it, our Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble and String Orchestra treated residents of the Benedictine Living Community to a very special physically distanced outdoor concert last week. Here's a photo album of the event, which Band Director Michael Buck said was very well received by the many residents who gathered at their windows to listen. "I hope that you realize that for many, this moment of joy is a wonderful gift that we could share to a group of our community's most vulnerable members," he wrote in a note to the student musicians. Well done - many thanks Michael!
A new outlook on aging
Congratulations to Professor Emeritus of Psychology Chandra Mehrotra, who recently had an article published by the American Psychological Association and highlighted by Psychology Today. In "Optimizing Aging: A Call for a New Narrative," Mehrotra writes that the general public's negative views of aging reflect misconceptions that are not scientifically supported.
Thank you for your continued commitment to our educational mission and the safety of our community. I recognize that everyone is juggling a lot between continual adjustments in our work and personal lives in these unprecedented times. It can be overwhelming. Yet I know that every day, you are making a difference in the lives of our students, and your efforts are seen and appreciated.
Take good care, have a wonderful weekend and stay safe!