As you know, every community is being impacted by the coronavirus in one way or another, and our Hesston College community is no different. With the fluidity of information and recommendations coming from local, state, national and global leaders, I can confidently say that Hesston College’s plan is adapting as well.
I write this letter as an update to our broader campus community. Students, parents and employees are, of course, among those most directly impacted by our recent announcements. However, alumni, donors and friends are also valued stakeholders we want to keep informed.
Currently, Hesston College is on spring break and will shift to online learning beginning Monday, March 23, until at least April 12. This decision was made last Thursday, March 12, and was communicated to students, parents and our local press outlets that afternoon. Classes were canceled the following Friday, March 13, to allow faculty and staff to adapt our campus to a temporary online learning community. Canceling classes also allowed students and parents extra time to weigh the options given to them regarding housing during break and the online learning period. Some students chose to remain on campus, while others chose to navigate this global crisis from home where possible. Our international students do not have the easy option of navigating this crisis from home, and for them we are trying to extend extra care and assistance. We respect all decisions made as no two students have the same circumstances to consider.
Our goal through all of this is to put health and safety first, remain student-centered in our decisions, and continue to find ways to be community, even when our campus community is scattered. Community – something that is so central to the Hesston Experience – has begun to look different as we cannot be physically gathered together. However, the power of the Hesston Experience can and will find its footing in this new reality. For example, faculty and staff remain committed to the student experience at a distance, just as each would be in person, and will do whatever is needed to keep students connected and supported during this time.
Much of the faculty and staff plan to work remotely during this time of online learning to limit person-to-person contact as much as possible. Please understand that if you contact a campus office, you may find response times more delayed than usual, but that someone will get back to you. You can also find an employee listing with direct contact information at hesston.edu/employee.
In an effort to keep you best informed, anytime the college’s plan changes, updates will be posted at hesston.edu/covid so you can easily access the latest information as you choose.
One thing that is reassuring during this time of uncertainty is that the Hesston College community expands far beyond campus. We are blessed by the fact that many of our alumni and friends are standing with us, continuing to support the Hesston College mission and the student experience as we lean into this next chapter. As always, please keep the Hesston College community in your prayers, as well as leaders around the world as we work together to curb this pandemic. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Be safe. Be smart. Be kind.
Joseph A. Manickam