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Today, I’m disappointed to report that the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus is slowly increasing. We currently have 26 students and four staff testing positive for the coronavirus, representing the most new positive cases at Austin Peay since the semester began. Everyone must follow our safety guidelines while on campus, which includes wearing a mask in buildings and outside if you are within six feet of someone else. In this last week, as I’ve walked across campus, I’ve seen some people neglecting these guidelines, and this is simply not acceptable. Disciplinary action can be taken against individuals who are not in compliance, but please don’t let it come to that.

Whether you are on campus or not, everyone needs to avoid congregating in large groups. We recently had two Greek organizations at Austin Peay host events where attendees later tested positive for COVID-19. In response to this small outbreak and to help mitigate potential spread, we have suspended all fraternity and sorority activities – in-person meetings and events – for two weeks. Please remain diligent because we need your help in stopping the growing spread of this virus. Everybody on campus needs to do their part.

I know this is a frustrating time. The fall semester on a college campus is traditionally filled with wonderful experiences, from Homecoming bonfires to football games to numerous other academic and social events. These are experiences that everyone is missing out on, and I’m also upset that I don’t get to spend time connecting with my colleagues and our students. For much of this semester, you’ve done a great job, but we’re entering that point in the season when exhaustion begins to set in. The days are growing shorter, and the stress of this months-long pandemic continues to build. Please be mindful of your physical, mental and emotional health. Just as I want everyone to be safe by following our COVID-19 guidelines, I also want you to make sure you’re practicing some form of self-care.

Austin Peay students have access to 12 free counseling sessions through APSU Health and Counseling. If you need to talk to someone, they can help. They also offer group counseling sessions and mindfulness meditation. For faculty and staff, we offer the employee assistance benefit if you are interested in counseling. I encourage everyone to find time to exercise and do something fun like binge-watch a show on Netflix, read a book or listen to calming music. And make sure you’re allowing yourself 7-8 hours of sleep a night. A little self-care will go a long way as you move through the remainder of this semester.

Next week, Boyd Health Services is also offering free flu vaccines. They will be set up on the second floor of the Morgan University Center. Times were sent through TheGovSays on Tuesday. Please check that email for more information.

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, I will host another “Pop-Ins with the Prez” from 1-3 p.m., through Zoom. These “pop-ins” are a time for faculty, staff and students to share any of their thoughts or concerns with me. You can sign up for a 15-minute slot at this link

I discussed much of this yesterday during my weekly social media town hall. If you missed it, you can watch it below.

October 7, 2020 Town Hall with Interim President Dannelle Whiteside

Thank you again for all your hard work, and please remember to wear your masks and follow our COVID-19 guidelines to help keep everyone safe.

Dannelle Whiteside

Interim President