Monday, October 19, 2020 | Category: Eduvation Insider
It’s Monday, in case like me you’re having trouble keeping track. I grew up on the music of Karen Carpenter, and am finding the lyrics of “Rainy Days and Mondays” astoundingly appropriate as the rain pours down outside: I am “talking to myself and feeling old,” and thanks to the COVID-19, “nothin’ ever seems to fit.” Tragically, Karen’s life was cut short by depression and eating disorders.
Today I’m going to get back to the issue of mental health, which I didn’t have a chance to finish back at the beginning of the month. And that’s probably a good idea, because I’m going to start with a round-up of COVID news from the weekend, which I confess is a rough way to start your week. (Sorry!)
Besides millions of cases and vaccine delays, a rising second wave and the start of new lockdowns, a second US college president has died of COVID19 and I count 23 more cases on CdnPSE campuses…
The coronavirus pandemic continues to follow the path most pessimists predicted.
Since we spoke last, the US has surpassed 8M cases, and the new daily cases topped 60,000 – setting new daily records in 21 states. (In Aug, Anthony Fauci warned that daily cases needed to get below 10,000 by Sept, or the healthcare system would be overwhelmed this fall.) And yet, president Trump touts his handling of the pandemic, tells supporters not to listen to “pessimists,” and insists “the light at the end of the tunnel is near.” But vaccine frontrunner Pfizer warns it “will not seek emergency authorization from the [FDA] before the third week of November.”
Global cases set a new daily record on Friday too: 400,000 – driven by a resurgent second wave in Europe that is generating 140,000 cases a day. Russia, Northern Ireland, and the Czech Republic are closing schools. Poland is considering opening military field hospitals. France reported 32,000 cases in a day, and has imposed 9pm curfews in Paris and other major cities. COVID death rates in Belgium and Spain are overtaking the US, with Italy and Sweden close behind.
Meanwhile a small village in Switzerland has become the highest contagion region in all of Europe, thanks to 2 yodelling concerts: 50% of the town is testing positive.
Here in Canada, we’re approaching 200,000 cases after Quebec reported more than 1,000 for 3 days in a row. Ontario’s numbers are bad too, and the premier has imposed month-long dining bans and gym closures in 4 regions now, adding York Region today (and apparently considering Halton Region next). Although small by comparison, Manitoba saw a record 173 new cases on Thursday, and 75 more on Friday – prompting the government to shut down Winnipeg bars and casinos.
As if all of that weren’t bad enough, renowned uMinnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm says “the next 6 to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic,” and that vaccines won’t be available “in any meaningful way” until Q3 of 2021. And WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, warns that young people may have to wait until 2022 for a vaccination. “If that’s the case, schools and universities could be among the last establishments to get back to regular pre-2020 in-person activities, meaning remote learning could be the norm for quite a while more.”
(Please don’t shoot the messenger!)
“The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We are rounding the turn. Don’t listen to the cynics and angry partisans and pessimists.” – President Donald Trump, at an event Friday in Fort Myers, Florida
“It was never going to happen. It was utterly unrealistic. Vaccines follow a timeline of good science, they don’t follow a timeline of electoral politics.” – Lawrence Gostin, Director, WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University
“Vaccines will not become available in any meaningful way until early to [the] third quarter of next year. And even then, about half of the US population at this point is skeptical of even taking the vaccine.” – Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy,uMinnesota
“Schools and universities could be among the last establishments to get back to regular pre-2020 in-person activities, meaning remote learning could be the norm for quite a while more.” – Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization
2 US college presidents have now died of COVID19:
Saint Augustine’s U (NC) announced Friday that the college president, Irving Pressley McPhail, has died of complications from COVID19 just 3 months after taking the position. US News
Last month Mark Ivester, the 57-year-old president of North Georgia Technical College, died “after losing his battle with COVID19.” Inside Higher Ed
CdnPSE reported 23 more cases since Friday morning:
Durham College reported Friday 2 more students have tested positive, one studying on the Oshawa campus and the other learning remotely. (Total now 10 cases since Sept, 6 of which remain active.) Durham
Laurier’s Clara Conrad residence outbreak, which was at 15 cases across 3 floors on Thursday, added 9 more cases on Friday – 6 of them living in CCH and 3 in other residences, including Waterloo College Hall and 260 Regina. CCH is a dorm-style residence with shared bathrooms and kitchen spaces. (By my count, Laurier is now up to at least 32 cases since Sept.) Global
St Lawrence College reports that a student from its Brockville campus tested positive. Twitter
Toronto Western Hospital has had 3 patients and 6 staff test positive in the general internal medicine department since Oct 15, according to the University Health Network. CTV
uWaterloo reported Friday that there were 2 separate positive tests last week. (Total of 3 in October.) uWaterloo
Western U remains CdnPSE’s largest COVID19 outbreak, by a large margin. At least 74 students have tested positive, 5 of them in residence. (The local health unit stopped publicly identifying Western cases Oct 1, but PHO Chris Mackie said last week that “we continue to have a number of cases coming in that are linked with Western,” most driven by residence or shared housing, and particularly by after-hours parties. London has 253 cases of people in their 20s, the largest group in the region.) The university and regional PHO anticipate a jump in cases as students return from Thanksgiving. Western has asked all students from the London Hall residence who travelled home to remain there in quarantine for 2 weeks before returning to campus. Western Gazette
Although many statistics don’t suggest the crisis is getting worse, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence…
Child Abuse Reporting Plummets
The National Children’s Alliance, a network of 900 children’s advocacy centres across the US, reports 40,000 fewer cases of child abuse this year – which advocates insist does not mean 21% less child abuse going on, but significant under-reporting. In fact, 21% of child abuse reports made in 2018 were filed by teachers, who are “mandated reporters,” but who no longer see their students in person, before or after classes. Some students could be severely injured or killed as a result, while survivors will face higher rates of poverty, incarceration, obesity and diabetes. Huffington Post
Addressing the MH Stigma
One of the critical first steps to addressing mental health on campus is creating a climate in which people feel comfortable discussing it. Few university presidents have done as much to advance that cause, as eloquently and empathetically, as Carleton’s Benoit-Antoine Bacon. My Ten with Ken interview with him has racked up nearly 1,000 views on YouTube since it was released just over 2 weeks ago. If you’re looking for something upbeat in this issue, this can be it: “You don’t have to be bound by your past… The journey of healing is always continuing, it’s never ever done.” Ten with Ken
Campus mental health services have long been overwhelmed, but with the abrupt transition to remote work and learning, they have been forced to pivot to alternative modes of counselling too…
Campus MH Services Overwhelmed
Prior to COVID19, about half of undergrads reported feeling hopeless or so depressed it was difficult to function. Campus MH services, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists have been woefully understaffed for years – despite significantly increased investments – and in the face of massive budget cuts, that is unlikely to improve. Horror stories are widespread of long waitlists, and students in crisis waiting months for appointments, or receiving inadequate care from a grad student. The shift online has caused licensing issues for US telehealth practitioners, who cannot practice across state lines if students move back home. Sadly, 2 out of 3 students with MH issues ultimately drop out. The solution is more proactive MH measures before students wind up in crisis, shifting the paradigm from critical care to wellness and prevention: mindfulness, resiliency skills, and healthy habits. Some campuses are even hiring “Chief Wellness Officers.” Futurism
The Value of Remote Therapy
For several years now, PSEs have been adopting online MH self-assessment tools and teletherapy platforms, but the assumption has always been that it was merely a cost-effective solution to F2F waiting lists. After crises like wildfires and pandemics, first responders must often cope with significant trauma. A recent uAlberta meta-analysis of 38 studies found that virtual delivery of many forms of therapy can be equally effective, while reducing stigma and missed work cost, travel time and expense. Some safety and privacy concerns, and effectiveness across diverse groups, still need further study. (And the digital divide may disadvantage rural patients.) Journal of Medical Internet Research
Marketing in Times of Crisis Fatigue
When your stakeholders are overwhelmed with sadness and anger, and faced with economic strain, health anxiety and uncertainty, marketers must pay particular attention to tone. Most advertisers have adopted COVID-specific campaigns of reassurance and hope (many laughably cliché), but audiences differ in their receptivity: Gen Z and those on the political right are far less worried by the pandemic, while those in viral hot spots feel quite pessimistic about the future. A rapidly-changing environment demands data-driven, “agile” micro-campaigns, a tolerance for imperfection, and scenario planning for a variety of contingencies. Long-term communication strategies and brand personality should stay consistent throughout the pandemic, while tactics and messaging may be in continuous flux. In a “perpetual cycle of bad news,” the challenge is to convey optimism and hope. Marketing Profs
In times of economic recession and social turbulence, organizations who boldly make major investments in the future really stand out – and research proves they wind up much better positioned when the dust settles, too. As hundreds of institutions across the US ponder mergers or closing their doors, top institutional brands are reporting enrolment gains and stable budgets. But few have thrown open the doors on a brand new institution this fall… except St Andrew’s College, north of Toronto…
St. Anne’s School
This fall, independent boy’s school St. Andrew’s College has opened a sister college across the highway in Aurora ON, at a stunning campus that already looks historic. St Anne’s School for girls is an impressive facility, and not surprisingly they also cut no corners on this 5-min launch video or the brand identity at its close. YouTube
I hope your week gets off to a smooth start! Stay safe, and be well!
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