Please Note: Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we are asking non-essential visitors to campus to cancel visits for the foreseeable future. Unless you are providing an essential service to the campus community, please do not come on to campus. The campus is closed to casual visitors, including those who may wish to park on campus to use nearby hiking trails, and others except for essential needs personnel.

March 28, 2020 – Resilience Update

Dear Alumni, Friends and Supporters of Pearson College UWC,

As the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic it is our hope from everyone at Pearson that you and your loved ones are doing well whether you are at home or are sheltering elsewhere. As we expressed earlier, please continue to heed the advice of your respective public health agencies and authorities. In this letter, I would like to provide you with another “remote” update as we move rapidly from transition to management of a new, different reality.

I’m gratified to share that, as of Friday, all our students have either returned safely to their homes, to the homes of relatives or friends – in some cases, with their peers and their families — or have been placed with extraordinarily generous host families, alumni and other volunteers who, in many cases, came to us to offer temporary shelter for any student in need. As borders continue to open and close and restrictions shift, we will continue to work with students still trying to get back home. I want to share my personal thanks to both students who were asked to make dramatic changes to their lives with very little notice and to the many individuals, supported by their families, who work and volunteer with the College and to the host families and alumni around the world who have reached out to make these journeys a little more comfortable.

Thursday of this week saw the on-time, “official” launch of our full online curriculum for both first- and second-year students and, according to our education and programming leaders, so far, so good! Faculty are continuing to support students in their education and learning through synchronous (live, real time) online classes and by offering a variety of “office hours” to work directly with individual students and to help cope with the time zone demands of working with a global student population. Several faculty members have already shared with me both the victories and the challenges, with one teacher expressing complete admiration for one student based in Eastern Europe who “attended” a midnight to 2 a.m. class their time!

Heather Gross, our Vice-President of Education and Programming, together with Deans Emily and Julia and our small but mighty Information Technology duo Doug and Dan, continue to work together remotely to, if I may, #flattenthecurve of the rapid move to full online learning. We are continuing to work through ways that we might be able to, as much as possible, “mirror” our experiential education experience remotely. Our staff librarian Michelle also checked in with all students and faculty to provide a quick, easy guide to Pearson library online resources and other open-source reference and educational material. Michelle is making herself available throughout the day and night to offer guidance and assistance by email.

As I mentioned in an earlier update, the IB Organization, which last week announced the cancellation of scheduled May 2020 exams due to the COVID-19 situation, has posted more details and a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on their website. Our Education and Programming leaders are poring over this and related material shared with IB schools around the world to determine how we at Pearson can adapt our classes, curriculum and teaching to provide the best support possible to first- and second-year students in achieving their respective goals. We will share Pearson-specific updates as appropriate.

Our College Health Centre remains open to support both students remotely and remaining campus residents – staff and some faculty — and their families. As most students are now settled in their own or temporary homes, Susan, our College Health Centre Nurse, reached out to all students to invite them to continue accessing health centre assistance, whether on specific health-related matters or just to provide a listening ear. Health Assistant Reese remains on-campus to provide services and is, like everyone else in the community, practicing safe physical (social) distancing and vital basic hygiene measures.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that the much-anticipated on-campus 40 Year Reunion in June has been placed on hold, a decision reached jointly by College Alumni Relations and the Reunion Organizing Committee. “On hold” simply means that both College and Alumni organizers will work together to create an alternate type of reunion. No details at this early stage but Benoit and Luisa from Alumni Relations will keep everyone in the Years 3 – 6 reunion group up to speed.

You have been receiving a number of messages from us over these past few weeks in amongst all of the information you are being asked to absorb in order to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you for your patience with these multiple messages during this compressed transition period. Thank you as well to the many people who have reached out with words of support and financial donations that will help us cope with the additional, unforeseen costs associated with keeping our unique educational model alive during and after the pandemic. If you have not already, please do consider making a donation, or supplementing your existing donation.

On behalf of everyone at Pearson College UWC, I wish you and your loved ones good health during these anxious times. Take care of yourself and those close to you.

Sincerely,

Ty Pile
President and Head of College
Pearson College UWC