Staying on Track During COVID-19: We're Here to Help

First, a bit about who I am. I am a former Walden student and current Walden staff member living in Washington state, one of the first states hit with COVID-19. And, as I am writing this, Wednesday, March 18, I am sick. I have all the symptoms associated with COVID-19 and I’ve been self-quarantined for nine days at the time of this writing. I can’t get tested though, because right now they are reserving tests for people who need to be hospitalized. And while it can be a little difficult to breathe at times, I am very thankful that my symptoms are not worse. I feel a little better each day. (You’ll find a good-news update on Shawna’s health at the bottom of this post. – Shawn Picht, blog editor).

But that is not what I am here to talk about; well, not really.

As a Walden student, you are already used to managing your school time online. But at this moment, because of all the uncertainty with COVID-19, it may feel different. You may have your children at home (in my area, schools have closed for the next 6 weeks), and you may be trying to work from home. These are all stressors that can impact your ability to be successful in your academic program.

You are not alone. We are all feeling the effects of our ever changing “new normal” as we try to contain the virus and protect the ones we love.

So, what can you do as an online student?

I remember reading once that Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) credited his mother for calming his fear as a child by reminding him to “look for the helpers.”

I am here to help you find them. These are your Walden helpers:

First, Walden has put together an Academic Experiences COVID-19 website. This website will have the most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is impacting Walden. This will include information on how COVID-19 is impacting both Residencies and Field Experiences.

The Walden University Library has always been a great resource for information. The librarians are still working at serving our Walden students every day through building library skills, webinars, and through Ask a Librarian. In addition, the library staff included a link to the COVID-19 Updates and Information website that includes the most up to date information from the CDC and WHO. 

The Writing Center is still operating to help you with your writing needs. This might include helping you with paper reviews, asking questions during a live chat, or just general instructional modules.

Career Services can be a great resource to help you develop a resume or refine other job skills when you are ready to go back to work. If you are temporarily out of work because of COVID-19, they can also help you explore career options, figure out ways to market your qualifications, and find job opportunities.

Walden’s Disabilities Services is a great resource for students that need assistance with accessibility. But did you know they also offer mental health support including free confidential counseling support to help with family issues (like being quarantined together for weeks), or managing stress from major life changes?

If you are a doctoral student working on your capstone project, the Center for Research Quality is still holding office hours (Institutional Review Board, Quantitative Methodology, and Qualitative Methodology) to help you with your questions.

Your instructors are also a great resource at this time. They are walking through the same unknowns that you are. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to them. They can offer you classroom support. If you need extensions on assignments because of illness, or stress, or just in general, let them know. They want to support you and encourage you during this time and see you succeed. 

As a reminder, Walden requires ongoing participation to maintain federal aid eligibility. While your instructors are able to offer you space and time to complete your work, if you anticipate that you are not able to participate in the course for 30 consecutive days, you should contact your faculty member and your Student Success Advisor.

Your fellow classmates can also be a great resource for you. They, more than anyone, will understand all the pressure that comes with being a student during this time. Reach out for support. Reach out to support. You are all in this together, whether you are in the same city, or same country, we are all experiencing the unknowns of COVID-19 together. We are one Walden.

And lastly, us, here at the Academic Skills Center; while many students consider this center a great resource for tutoring and statistics support, we also offer some valuable resources on school-life balance, and some self-paced modules for study skills including time-management and stress management, and critical reading.

We are all open and ready to help you.

Update Monday, March 23 – I wanted to give a quick update while finalizing this blog before publication. I am happy to say that after about two weeks, my fever finally broke and is normal again and I am feeling much better, not 100% yet, but I am getting there!

Update Friday, March 27 – While I still have a low fever that comes and goes as well as mild cough, I am feeling loads better! I am back at about 90%. 

Shawna Burtis, PhD is an Instructional Specialist in Technology and Websites in the Academic Skills Center where she maintains ASC’s Quick Answers, web sites, and assists in editing ASC webinars and videos. She joined Walden as a graduate student in 2012 and completed her PhD from Walden in 2017.

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