President LeBlanc: 'We Remain a Strong Community'

March 30, 2020

To the George Washington University Community:

It is hard to believe that we are only two weeks into our teleworking policy and one week into virtual instruction for all classes. While we know this “new normal” is temporary, the amount of uncertainty we are all experiencing together makes it difficult to think about a time when we will return to our previous routines.

I hope that you are beginning to develop a routine in your online classes or work from home. Given the federal government’s latest guidance to stay home until the end of April, we will all need to exhibit patience as we manage this period of change. I hope that you and your families are in good health. I have enjoyed the photos posted recently by students of our new GW “branch campuses” in their home states.

I am also heartened by our health care providers who are taking care of those afflicted by COVID-19. Their task is monumental, and they have met the challenges they are facing with unparalleled compassion and selflessness.

In these times it is important to remember that communities do not need to share geography, but they do need to share values and support for one another. By these measures, we remain a strong community. Despite distance and our own personal challenges, we have come together to care for one another. In addition to our amazing health and safety providers, in the past few weeks, we have seen students helping other students find a way home, faculty adjusting syllabi on the fly and staff pitching in wherever they are needed.

Here in D.C., Mayor Bowser recently ordered the closure of non-essential businesses. But we continue to be here for you; GW remains operational as an essential business, fulfilling our public health and clinical services as well as our educational mission through virtual learning. Our faculty have taken on a tremendous load of additional work to bring the GW experience online for our students. Staff are continuing to work remotely, carrying on important university business and juggling many other responsibilities at home.

On campus, we are taking very seriously our responsibility to not only keep our GW community safe but also to slow the spread of the virus. Only essential on-site employees, to whom we owe a special debt of gratitude, and students approved to stay in their residence halls are here. We are asking on-campus resident students to leave their rooms only when absolutely necessary, such as for groceries, medical appointments or a little fresh air.

Our resident students who departed campus have received notices about packing and storage. Again, the steps we are taking are to protect the health and safety of our students, their families and our staff. We are working diligently to take special care of your belongings, and over the next few weeks you will be contacted to discuss your needs.

As I hope you are doing, we are all practicing social distancing and heeding the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local government and health officials, particularly in terms of guidance for self-quarantining after being in areas with a high concentration of confirmed cases.

I know it is disappointing that we don’t know when we will be able to welcome you back to campus, but I am trying to stay positive, and I hope you and your families are, too.

In the meantime, keep those branch campuses operating!

Sincerely,

Thomas LeBlanc
President