Dear Teachers College Faculty, Students, and Staff,
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday break, I feel grateful for the privilege of serving our TC community to which I have belonged for nearly 30 years. I also am thankful that our community not only has risen to all of the unprecedented challenges of the past eight months, but also, in adhering to all health and safety guidelines, has helped New York to maintain low levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the middle of June.
As we make our holiday plans, Thanksgiving comes at a worrisome stage of the pandemic, with cases and hospitalizations surging to record levels throughout much of the country. The positivity rate in New York City was approaching 3% as of last week – much lower than the rest of the country, but nonetheless a reminder that we cannot afford to relax our guard if we want to keep each other safe and healthy.
We all want to be with our family and friends this holiday. On Thanksgiving, my wife Carmenza and I usually spend the day with our daughters and their families and Carmenza’s sisters. This year, the two of us will have dinner and make liberal use of Zoom to visit with our daughters, sons-in-law, siblings, and grandchildren. As we all know both New York State and the federal Centers for Disease Control strongly recommend that we refrain from traveling or gathering with friends and family outside of our immediate households. If we do travel, we are required to follow NY State guidelines for quarantining and/or testing upon return – especially for those of us spending time with older adults or immuno-compromised people. New York higher education institutions’ faculty, staff and students are still required to use the PCR COVID-19 test and not the rapid test as the PCR test provides more accurate results. To find a testing site near you, visit nyc.gov/COVIDtest, or Text COVID TEST to 855-48. For other testing locations in the tri-state area, visit TC’s COVID-19 Testing Procedures page.
While we are encouraged by the promising news on the coronavirus vaccine front, it will be months before vaccines are available to the general population. That means each of us should continue taking all the prescribed facial covering, physical distancing, and hygiene measures to protect ourselves and others. If you are residing on campus or coming to work on campus for any reason, please continue following all of the rules and guidelines provided on our Preparedness site and laid out most recently in my October 28 announcement about our plans for the winter/spring term.
We are all battling coronavirus burnout and pandemic fatigue. I recognize the effort and commitment that everyone has made to continue to carry out our work and studies, and we should all be proud of that. As we continue to get satisfaction from our achievements in this difficult time, we should remember that staying committed to health and safety measures will help us get through the next few months – and bring us closer to the day when we can start making travel plans for family and holiday gatherings. In the meantime, as with so much else, we can still have a meaningful Thanksgiving holiday – and look forward to more joyous holiday gatherings next year.
To everyone in our Teachers College community: I wish all of you and your loved ones a wonderful, restful, and safe Thanksgiving holiday. And I look forward to “seeing” you all next Monday!
President, Teachers College