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March 6, 2020

Ecumenical Theological Seminary

COVID-19 – Corona Virus Response





Concern for the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues to increase globally and nationally. While there are no reported infections in Michigan, it is presumed inevitable the situation will change.  I have been monitoring the Wayne State University website for updates on what they and other schools are doing to prepare for future contingencies.  Those contingencies reflect CDC recommendations and their impact on staff, faculty and students.  We share those concerns.

You are encouraged to visit the CDC website as often as necessary:

In order to keep our campus and workspaces as safe as possible, the following recommendations should be followed immediately:



  • You should wash your hands frequently throughout the day at work and home.
  • You should avoid touching your mouth, eyes or face.
  • Some health officials recommend that shaking hands be avoided as much as possible.
  • If you get sick and develop serious coughing, sneezing and fever-like symptoms, you should notify the seminary before coming to work and prepare to see your medical professional.
  • I will discuss working-from-home scenarios with ETS leadership in case that becomes necessary. That includes campus shutdown scenarios if it ever becomes necessary.



In addition to the basic recommendations for staff listed above, faculty members should do the following:

  • Advise students to stay home if they are sick: coughing, sneezing, fever or serious respiratory conditions.
  • Like staff, you should wash your hands regularly and avoid touching as much as possible.
  • If you get sick, advise the seminary as soon as possible and stay at home.
  • While we did not discuss at yesterday’s meeting, we must prepare to use alternative platforms to hold classes. That includes preparing to use Blackboard and other viable alternatives.  Someone suggested using Google Hangouts, for example, as a quick solution to conduct class sessions and/or meetings.  I am in contact with Kevin Kettles and will ask him to share some ideas with us early next week.  That will require preparing faculty and students to use the platforms before the need arises. 



It is imperative that students follow the basic recommendations already listed.  It is our objective to protect all students by observing basic safety recommendations. In addition to what has already been recommended, students should observe the following:

  • If you get sick and are coughing, sneezing and experiencing any kind of serious respiratory difficulty, please contact your professor. It will be best if you stay home until your condition improves.
  • If you come to class with any of the previously mentioned conditions, you will be asked to leave the class.
  • The seminary is reviewing alternative teaching platforms in case on-site classes are disrupted. Our online platform, Blackboard, is being considered for expanded use.  Google Hangouts and other possible platforms will also be considered as options.  We will have more information next week.
  • As already recommended, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face as much as possible. Wash, wash,wash!  Be careful about shaking hands and touching.

In conclusion, future updates will be forthcoming from ETS leadership for staff, faculty and students.  I again urge everyone to visit the CDC website for guidelines that advise the public how to best protect oneself against infection by the Corona virus.



Dr. Ken Harris

President/Academic Dean