As we have seen in both Missouri and across the nation, adjusting our lives due to COVID-19 has required all of us to make significant sacrifices. The latest example of this new reality came yesterday, when Callaway County officially announced a stay-at-home order for its citizens, consistent with what hundreds of other cities and counties have already instituted around the country. The order from our University’s home county has a lot of important information for everyone connected with William Woods University, and I urge you to read the following summary of the order from the Callaway County Department of Health:
We have always been proud to call Fulton and Callaway County the home of William Woods, and have worked hard to be the best possible neighbor to the citizens of our home city and county as long as the University has been here. I want to reiterate that William Woods has been extremely vigilant in addressing this unprecedented crisis from well before it affected our area, not only out of concern for our students, faculty and staff, but for our Fulton and Callaway County neighbors.
For example, WWU convened a COVID-19 Preparedness Team in February, long before it became a crisis in mid-Missouri, so we could begin to proactively ready our University operations for any potential disruptions. We transitioned all University classes to online delivery on March 13, consistent with other universities and colleges in mid-Missouri. We immediately closed campus, facilitated the departure of our students and moved all our employees to work-at-home status as soon as we had the first positive case of coronavirus, on March 20. We held health screenings for our students before they left campus to ensure they were healthy before they left and not potentially spreading the virus to their home communities and families. We have worked tirelessly with the Callaway County Department of Health to investigate those who had close contact with anyone who tested positive, and facilitated a policy of self-isolation for them to help further curtail spread of the virus. Due to the comprehensive set of proactive, precautionary measures we have undertaken, not a single case of coronavirus has showed up outside our campus in Fulton or Callaway County.
In summary, we have rigidly followed all Centers For Disease Control, Missouri Department of Health and Callaway County Department of Health guidelines and regulations throughout this entire process. At the same time, it is important to note that we had a much earlier Spring Break than other colleges and universities in mid-Missouri (March 2-5), which has had an unmistakable impact on the number of positive coronavirus cases at William Woods compared to other area schools. Remember that on the last day before our Spring Break (Friday, February 28), there were no domestic travel restrictions in place and no Spring Break destinations shutting down. Due to this rapidly-changing virus, it was a different world as recently as February 28, and even then, we were following all federal, state and local health guidelines.
We have acted in a spirit of proactivity, caution and concern for our community and its citizens throughout this ordeal. We will always be committed to the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and neighbors here at William Woods.
Jahnae H. Barnett