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Navigating the Tides of COVID-19

Navigating Covid
May 01, 2020

Placing Courage at the Wheel

Alabama A&M University students, faculty and staff have had to make numerous adjustments since the early onset and numerous shelter-in-place orders aimed at suppressing COVID-19.  Recent communications with various units around campus about the effect continuous stay-at-home regulations could have on their programs reveal both unique challenges as well as the characteristic Bulldog resilience.

From children to geriatrics, AAMU covers it all.  So, why not dig in among the programs to test for Bulldog honesty and tenacity?

Carlton WrightFirst up … Band!  For instance, who can imagine a wholesome collegiate experience without the excitement and longed-for clamor generated by a marching band?  Carlton J. Wright (2nd, r) took a moment to reflect on it one recent Monday afternoon.

“Man!  This thing would be detrimental to us and every band in the country!” exclaimed Wright, an AAMU alum.  “Our band room is too small to even consider social distancing.  Therefore, we would not be able to assemble until the ‘all clear’ signal is given.”

Wright, whose iconic Marching Maroon and White Band has hovered around 200 members, admitted that the national appeal of the Promised Land of online instruction is still a bit difficult for his unit.

“Right now, it poses a challenge for us to teach band online,” Wright explained.  “I can only listen to a few students at a time.”  He added that the absence of robust Wi-Fi signals and the sometimes abundance of sound delays makes his task tedious.

Moreover, that close, hands-on how-to-do-it-ness is also a mainstay of the popular Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program guided by Dr. Carol Deakin, interim chair, program coordinator and associate professor.  CSD clinical director Esther Phillips-Ross developed a contingency plan for the unit during the early days of AAMU’s thrust into online education.

“Initially, our response was to address the immediate needs of our undergraduate and graduate students who were accumulating clinical clock hours, as well as our students graduating May 2020,” said Deakin.  “Our response quickly broadened to address the challenges of COVID-19 and its implication of long-term sheltering in.”

DeakinDeakin (left) noted that the CSD program is offering clinical instruction via videoconferencing platforms (telerehabilitation).  Other unique instruction formats include simulated clients and case studies, a Master Clinical Network and Zoom meetings.  Students scheduled for May 2020 graduation have been able to acquire all practicum hours needed for certification, Deakin said.

Among some of The Hill’s favorite traditions are the various programs and events of the on-campus Child Development Center—the treks across campus for pre-Halloween treats, the Black History Month programs, and many others.

Smith“Currently, because of the pandemic, we are unable to operate the CDC,” responded Dr. Cynthia M. Smith, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.  As an on-campus laboratory, CDC operates according to University policies and in concert with policies of the Huntsville City Schools.  

“We charge a weekly fee for services,” said Smith (r).  “As such, we have experienced a loss of revenue since mid-March.  Additionally, with the rumor that some centers in the city are re-opening, we run the risk of losing some of our clientele.  However, given the uncertainty of the pandemic, I would rather err on the side of safety.”

Justin Graves, the always-busy sports information director in the Department of Athletics, said that contact with student athletes has continued in valiant efforts to finish out the semester.  Some strides, though, have been made in the recruiting of athletes via the Internet.

In Student Health and Counseling, Carlquista Slay stated that Counseling staff members are performing telework and have sent correspondence to students related to the ongoing provision of health and counseling access.  Similarly, Student Health’s Rebecca Dickerson reported that her area has been holding group meetings, as well as providing care to student clients via the Internet.  Some clients have expressed anxiety and worry about their conditions and the impact of COVID-19.

To put it all in perspective, there’s a recent acrostic from AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., calling Bulldogs everywhere to meet these challenges with their inherent resolve and C-O-U-R-A-G-E:

C - embrace Change

O - remain Optimistic

U - be Undaunted and Unshaken in our faith

R - have Resolve and be Resilient

A - be Adaptable to the ever changing world around us

G - have Grit

E - be Enduring throughout this ordeal

Letter for letter, that’s a match for C-O-V-I-D-1-9.

                                                                                                                                   by Jerome Saintjones