11 Mar 2020

NWIC Initial Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The College has taken precautionary measures to protect and prepare for the impact related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). All classes were cancelled, Wednesday March 11, to allow time for a mandatory precautionary all-staff and faculty training and updates to prepare for a possible closure.  This training included Canvas, Zoom, and Office 365 in case of an outbreak in order to implement a practice of “social distancing,” in case of a campus closure to mitigate service/class interruption.


General criteria for a College closure includes, but is not limited to: a coordinated closure if local school districts (Lummi Nation School/Ferndale) close for a period of time due to a positive case of the coronavirus, and/or if a College employee or student tests positive for the virus.


Per recommendations from Dr. Dakotah Lane this morning, if an employee or student tests positive then the College will close for two weeks (14 days).  In preparation for a possible temporary closure, we have held faculty and staff trainings to make sure everyone is knowledgeable about how to use the Zoom platform (for meetings or classes) and Office 365 to access files remotely. We also have a coordinated plan to potentially offer on-line or hybrid courses (via Canvas).


It’s important to note there are still no confirmed positive cases in Lummi, yet one positive test in Whatcom County as of 03/11/2020 at 6pm, but things may change very quickly.


As a preventative measure, all NWIC affiliated staff and student travel is prohibited for a minimum of two weeks, and possibly up to the four weeks.  This includes travel to and from our extended campus sites. Though we cannot prohibit what our students, faculty, and staff do in their own time, we strongly encourage everyone at NWIC to limit travel as much as possible. In short, the aim is to stay close to home, to the extent possible, to contain and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


Additionally, the College will also be cancelling or postponing large events to minimize risk of a spread. These events include, but are not limited to: Vine Deloria Jr. Symposium (postponed), Weavers Teaching Weavers (postponed), and Rising Voices Conference (cancelled), Stone Soup (postponed).  The postponed events will be reevaluated after 4 weeks, or early May, for possible rescheduling in June or summer.


The annual AIHEC spring student leadership conference and the planned Board governance training, scheduled in Albuquerque next week, was actually cancelled today.  It’s my understanding that many airlines now have a coronavirus policy that allows for a full refund or no penalty, or at minimum, credit to be used within a year.


We are coordinating with the Lummi Nation, Lummi Nation School, and Ferndale School District as coordinated closures are known to have the biggest impact to help prevent viral spread. Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding as we do our part to help with containment and mitigation.


Thank you all for your support and cooperation.  Please let us know if you have questions at pio@nwic.edu.