March 28, 2020

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SIU faculty and staff:

We have been notified by the Jackson County Health Department that a second campus case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed. The individual is in the same residence hall as the first individual diagnosed on Thursday, March 26. All 21 residents of the hall have been placed in quarantine by the health department and are fully supported with food and other necessities.

 In fact, we are fortunate that these and other students on campus have access to the full resources of the university—including student health and housing services–as well as the expertise of the Jackson County Health Department and other health agencies during this unprecedented time. The health and safety of our community is our top priority.

It is important that we all understand that most communities across the country will experience COVID-19, and we are no different. The following is from the Jackson County Health Department: “We can expect more cases to be confirmed locally, as the number of tests being conducted is increasing. The number of cases can be reduced by adhering to the governor’s stay at home order, washing hands frequently, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, and maintaining space from others when in public.” 

One of the positive signs of an organization is its ability to weather the storm in challenging times.  I am very proud of how well faculty, staff and students have adjusted to the current situation. Kudos to our front-line workers–in public safety, housing and dining, plant and service operations and other areas–as well as to staff who are maintaining operations from home. Appreciation also goes to our Student Health Center personnel for their commitment to the health and safety of our students and community. Each of you is exhibiting, every day, the power of the words “to serve.”

This is not an easy time on the academic front as our faculty and students adjust mid-stream to an alternative way of delivering and receiving course content.  We are all learning something new each day, but the key point is that learning is occurring.  As a campus we are a resilient lot with a commitment to sustain our primary mission of education.   

Special thanks to our shared governance partners and leaders, including the Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate and Professional Student Council, the Civil Service Council, the Administrative Professional Staff Council, as well as the Faculty Association and our other partners. We are at our best in times of crisis, and we are strongest when we pull together.

I am also very impressed with the excellent coordination that is occurring among health care agencies and providers. These include Southern Illinois Healthcare and the Jackson County Health Department and our own Student Health Services. Their ability to work together and be supportive of one another, including our own health care providers is commendable. And, of course, we are very fortunate to have our own School of Medicine for support and consultation.

Winston Churchill once observed: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” That is, in fact, what we are doing.  Each day we are adjusting to a new reality, and thanks to you, we are making it work. As we know, this current health crisis will pass, but the lessons learned will remain forever. Your support and willingness to stay the course is an inspiration. 

We are in this together, and we are working together. Please stay positive and safe, and thank you for doing your part. 

John M. Dunn
Chancellor