To our community members:
We prepared ourselves for a lot of “what if” situations when creating Wayfinding Academy, but this is something none of us could have imagined five years ago – or even five weeks ago.
COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is changing the way we live, seemingly by the day. Just like you, we are being called to stay home, take care of our health, and find new ways of supporting each other while not necessarily being physically close to one another.
Simply put, it’s a strange experience for a community that so highly values in-person interactions. What would a Wayfinding virtual classroom look like? How do we remain available for students who aren’t able to get home or prefer to have our campus as their home base? These are the kinds of questions we’ve been asking ourselves over the past couple of weeks.
Fortunately, we’re benefiting from good timing right now. Our winter term is about to end and we were already preparing to enter our scheduled month-long April break. We are currently planning to start our spring term on April 28th (just one day later than originally scheduled) in accordance to when Oregon Governor Kate Brown is permitting schools to re-open. This enables our third cohort of students to complete their final term and graduate in July, on schedule.
Currently, our campus remains open for students who need it, but most of our staff are working from home and any events or guest visits that were supposed to take place have been rescheduled or postponed. We’re still accepting student applications (as always) and planning to welcome new students in late August. If you’re a prospective student or know someone who is interested in starting the process, now is a good time! Our Lead Matchmaker, Jonathan Gibson, is available for phone and video calls, and even virtual tours. You can get in touch with him here.
Above all, we are prioritizing the needs of our students to ensure they continue to receive a handcrafted college education that helps them connect with their purpose. Right now, that includes one-on-one conversations between each faculty member and each student to support them through their final projects of the term, as well as regular meetings between Guides and students, now via video. Our next step will be to figure out how to help students still get the connection and community they need and want during this time.
If there’s an upside to this, it’s that we have an opportunity to check in with our values. We are getting creative with how we connect, because human connection is important to us. We are valuing the present, because there’s no blueprint for what tomorrow will look like.
I can’t help but feel grateful to have these principles woven into the fabric of our college as we navigate difficult times. As this develops, we’ll be finding new ways to share passion- and purpose-focused activities with our extended community, so please watch your email inbox and our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. If you have any questions about how we’re operating, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Michelle D. Jones, Ph.D.
Founder and President
P.S. As a learning community, we are striving to keep ourselves informed using science and data to inform our decisions as well as relying on the guidance of our state officials. Here are some of the resources we have shared with our students, faculty, and staff to explain why social distancing is the key thing we can be doing right now to be good citizens:
- “What is 'flatten the curve'? The chart that shows how critical it is for everyone to fight coronavirus spread" by NBC News is here
- "Flattening the Coronavirus Curve: One chart explains why slowing the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it” by the NY Times is here
- Here is an interactive tool from the Washington Post to see how this approach works