RECAST | Taking Care of Each Other
From: Evergreen President’s Office <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sep 14, 2020, 10:15 AM -0700
| September 14, 2020 |
Dear Campus Community:
Your recent accomplishments were nothing short of impressive: a swift pivot to remote instruction, development of rigorous COVID protocols, creation of an inspiring vision for Evergreen’s future, major support for our TRiO programs, increasing support for Evergreen in the Legislature and the region, and work toward becoming a more welcoming, equitable and inclusive campus community.
You did this and much more, while confronting the unique personal challenges of the pandemic. Whether you live solo, are a caregiver, have underlying health issues and/or are a parent, I understand the obstacles and anxiety you are navigating. Your determination in nevertheless achieving so much for the college inspires me as much as the accomplishments themselves, and gives me hope for the months ahead.
As we begin the new academic year, let’s remember how profoundly the virus impacts all our personal lives. Let’s grant ourselves grace, practice empathy, and express gratitude in our work together.
I ask that supervisors whenever possible give staff clarity and flexibility in their work assignments. We want to give everyone a chance to balance the competing needs of work and life. We all have individual personal needs: to take care of ourselves, support family and friends, and to deal with unexpected challenges arising from the pandemic.
Encouraging Restorative Breaks
Part of taking care of ourselves means sometimes taking leave from work and finding time for uninterrupted mental and physical breaks from emails, Zoom calls, and demanding deadlines. By limiting when and how we contact one another after work hours, on weekends, or when a colleague is on leave, we enable each other to return to work stronger and more refreshed. For example, consider scheduling emails to send during working hours.
Acknowledging the Demands Parents and Guardians Face
Many of our faculty and staff are parents. With the school year beginning online and many daycare operations suspended, parents require continued flexibility in their work schedules and professional responsibilities. Let’s support our colleagues who are parents in balancing the needs of their family with their work commitments, and be flexible when possible.
Others have care-giving responsibilities for parents, family members or close friends. Like the parents among us, they require flexibility in their work schedules to care for their loved ones. Evergreen employees shouldn’t find themselves in a position of choosing between caring for a loved one and doing their Evergreen work. Both should be possible.
Remembering Those Who Live Alone
Supporting and caring for one another’s health and well-being is essential. Those who live alone also face challenges in maintaining the human connections that are necessary to well-being. We should remember those colleagues and not be shy about reaching out if support is needed. This is always important, but as the pandemic persists, let’s ensure this remains a high priority.
Unless there is a major breakthrough in the COVID-19 response, an unexpected decline in coronavirus infections or an order from the governor, it is likely we will be working under similar conditions for the remainder of the academic year. This will require a commitment to caring for each other, continuing to adapt our working approaches, and resilience.
At the heart of our response to COVID-19 has been and will continue to be protecting the health and safety of Evergreen students, faculty and staff. This ongoing commitment will guide our work together in the year ahead.
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with state resources available for employees and supervisors and check out some of the webinars offered on building resilience, self-care and navigating change. Many of you have found ways to support each other within your teams. I welcome your ideas on how we can become a more inclusive, supportive community during this time of multiple challenges facing us as individuals and employees. Please share ideas you may have with your supervisors or division leadership, which will help us identify viable ideas to strengthen support for staff and faculty.
Take care and stay healthy,
George S. Bridges
The Evergreen State College