Dear Lincoln Leaders,
Well, we didn’t quite make it. After much prayer and discussion with trusted advisors, I have made two decisions:
- Tomorrow will be the last day of in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester. Beginning Wednesday, November 11, 2020, all LCU courses will be online.
- All students living in the residence halls need to return to their place of permanent residence by Sunday, November 15, 2020, unless they receive prior approval to the contrary from Jill Dicken, Vice President of Student Development.
These decisions arise primarily from three issues: first, we have now reached the point where a fourteen-day quarantine extends through the scheduled conclusion of in-person learning. We have a growing number of students quarantining, and a number of them see no reason to stay here only to come out of quarantine after everyone has left. Students who need to quarantine here to protect vulnerable loved ones at home are welcome to do so, but at this point, I can appreciate someone wanting to quarantine at home. Second, it is becoming increasingly difficult for our faculty to manage courses that have numerous students in quarantine. While we would all prefer to continue holding these classes in-person, the reality is that over the next week-and-a-half, a number of classes would have nearly as many students missing as present. Third, unlike our earlier outbreak, our newest cases are coming from off-campus. In scanning the landscape around us, there is simply no reason to believe this situation will improve any over the next two weeks.
There are numerous questions that we will be working to answer over the coming days, and you should expect to receive further communication covering details regarding moving out, food service, etc. We also know that most of you will likely expect a small room and board refund for the five days that we will be shorting you as compared to our original plan. In an ideal world we would simply provide that to you. Unfortunately, COVID had already increased our costs for room and board this year, and though we did not pass those costs along to you, that makes it harder for us to afford to give you a refund. Please be patient with us as we try to find a fair solution to this.
Now let me back up to a higher level: I know this is disappointing. Unfortunately, while we can manage our own behavior, we have little control over those around us. Most of you have done an excellent job. I’m proud of you. All of us have made some mistakes. A few have deliberately ignored the rules; and while they didn’t help, at the end of the day, they don’t bear primary responsibility for this. We have been sandbagging against a rising flood, and today, the flood breached our levy. At the beginning of this semester we were worried about being the source of an outbreak that spread to those around us. Ironically, we are experiencing the reverse. I asked you to help me live with the decision to proceed this semester and you have. I’m grateful.
Some people go their entire lives never learning to concede when they have failed. But failure is a fundamental part of growth. Yes, Peter took his eyes off Jesus and sank into the sea, but before that, he had the courage to get out of the boat, and after that, he had the courage to preach the Gospel even unto persecution. Failure is always an opportunity. And so while we didn’t achieve our goal, let me highlight a few things we did achieve. To start with, we made this work quite a while longer than most of our peers in higher education. You also created meaningful community and should have the satisfaction of having done so over the numerous unique obstacles this pandemic put before you. You cared for each other. I am tremendously proud of your willingness to serve one another by helping with the needs of those in isolation or quarantine, and equally proud of your willingness to serve one another by holding each other accountable for behavior. In so many ways you have demonstrated a maturity and a love for others that many older than you have not.
It’s been a hard semester thus far, and I know this makes it harder yet. But finishing well, even if we can’t finish as expected, is still within our reach. So please, please, wear a mask, stay six feet away from people, hold each other accountable for behavior, speak up if you see a need, and pray for our community, our neighbors, and our nation. This will not last forever.
We love you, we’re proud of you, God has been and will continue to be good, and we’ve done well. Let’s keep it up.
Silas L. McCormick