10 March 2020
The situation here in Bethlehem continues to unfold in an unpredictable way. This morning it was announced that there are now 25 people who have tested positive in Bethlehem. That lead the Governor of the Bethlehem Governorate to extend the closure of all government and private institutions to include the churches, mosques, clubs, convents, coffee shops, etc. in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Here at Bethlehem University we are putting into operation a sophisticated plan to have students follow their courses online. The Academic Office and the IT department are working together to assist and support faculty in providing these courses and students in following them. There are challenges in doing this because some faculty members are not very familiar with the different skills that are needed to teach online and some students have limited access to computers or very slow access. Creative ways are being developed to get around such challenges. This closure is a serious disruption to the semester and people are working together to find ways to save this semester and enable students to continue their studies.
We are keeping in touch with faculty, staff, and students and will keep them informed about any developments that could lead to re-opening the University and people returning to campus. Bethlehem University is working with the Municipality, in line with the directives from the Ministry of Health, to disinfect the whole campus. So today every classroom, corridor, lab, office, bathroom, etc., and outside the buildings, were all disinfected, so that when people return to campus it should be a safe place for them.
This is a challenging time, but Palestinians here at Bethlehem University have been through many other challenging times before and I am confident that in working together we will come through this in a way that does not seriously harm our students. Thank you for your prayerful and practical support as we work our way through the challenges we face.
Best wishes and thanks
Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land