Chiropractic institutions must build trust to bounce back from the pandemic by tackling how to survive COVID
Since this pandemic exists, we have had our ups and downs between periods of mounting tension due to surges of infections punctuated by periods of hope in which the worst finally seems to be over. The most recent of these last periods came in octoberas cases and deaths plummeted across the country and higher education institutions began to grapple with how to survive COVID and bounce back effectively from all the adversity of the past two years.
Now, however, with the spread of another new variant and cases rising again, chiropractic and healthcare educational institutions are again steel themselves and struggling with the question of what to do. Some are considering resuming online classes, and a few have already done.
While a widespread return to fully remote learning is on the cards, we can largely avoid it and also bounce back from the past two years at the same time. We can do this by keeping a few principles in mind and putting them into practice.
How to Survive COVID: Responding to Student Needs and Concerns
It is important to remember that we must approach this issue from two angles simultaneously, that of the students and that of the faculty and staff. Let’s start with the students.
There have been many shifts and pivots throughout the pandemic, but there has been one concern that has remained fairly constant for students. It is about whether or not they will receive a quality education. It was a huge concern in the spring of 2020 when schools went fully remote, it remained a concern in the fall of 2020 when many schools took a hybrid approach, and it continued to be a concern when many schools returned to fully in-person classes. in the spring of 2021. Despite a gradual return to more normalcy, each stage of this pandemic has brought with it new uncertainties.
And now we have another new uncertainty. One of the most important tasks for higher education institutions will therefore be to constantly find ways to reassure students about both their safety and the quality of their teaching.
A big part of reassuring students is simply covering, or continuing to cover, all the basic safety precautions around how to survive COVID: masking, vaccinations, sanitation, social distancing, and classroom capacity. Controversies over vaccinations and mandates are likely to continue, so it’s up to each institution to decide what’s best for them and their students based on their own circumstances and the states they’re in. But with or without warrants, there’s more than the aforementioned basics schools can do to increase safety and avoid the need for more closures. Examples of these include temperature screening and/or frequent testing as well as campus contact tracing.
Student mental well-being
In addition to objective safety measures, there is also the issue of student comfort levels and mental well-being, which is another way the pandemic has disrupted learning.
Faculty and staff can help be on the lookout for warning signs who report that a student may need on-campus mental health services. Many students may continue to have varying levels of comfort with in-person learning, and therefore schools should review the measures in place to accommodate them so that their learning is not impeded. To this end, the potential of hybrid arrangements have not been fully exploitedand institutions should also think about it, especially since the COVID-19 Omicron variant is a new variable.
With so many institutions having fully resumed in-person learning, what will happen to students who may have to self-quarantine after becoming infected? They should be able to rest easy knowing that their learning will not have to be interrupted. Having hybrid measures ready or in place will ensure minimal disruptions to learning in the event of other variants or even other pandemics that emerge in the years to come.
Manage the needs and concerns of staff and faculty
Hopefully it goes without saying that a higher education. the institution is not just its student body. It is also its faculty and staff.
For this reason, bouncing back from the effects of this pandemic and staying strong in the face of future setbacks requires administrations to prioritize the needs of their faculties and staff as well. Faced with the back and forth between face-to-face and distance learning, do trainers have what it takes to manage and monitor the situation of their students? How do they stay in touch with students who are in quarantine or prefer to learn remotely out of precaution or discomfort?
It’s easy to forget, for example, that many instructors are older and may still struggle with all the technology the pandemic has forced us to rely on – both with technology in general and also with the passage constant from one set of circumstances to another as the pandemic evolved. When you add to that the digital divide in higher education and how many students may also be technologically disadvantaged with limited access to equipment or broadband, it becomes a lot for a faculty member to stay on top.
Additionally, just as students, faculty and staff may also experience different levels of discomfort with in-person teaching during periodic flare-ups of the pandemic, such as now, as many have shown up for good. A higher education institution cannot function without its most precious resource. Without teachers and staff, it is simply impossible to bounce back.
The bottom line here is that administrations must provide faculty and staff with the resources they need to survive COVID, whether by providing more equipment, additional training and skills upgrading, or hiring instructional designers, educational technologists and students. liaisons that can help alleviate and address student concerns. Freeing up some of that mental bandwidth for faculty and staff can help them stay resilient.
Important reminders to deal with anything that may happen
While this latest push, and the uncertainties surrounding the Omicron variant in general, may stir up new feelings of anxiety, it’s worth remembering that if the past two years are proof of anything, it’s that we can do it.
We’ve done it before and we can continue to do it no matter what: bend and pivot with each new wave, apply all the lessons we’ve learned and new tools we’ve acquired, and adequately address the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff so they can all stay strong no matter what from now on. And two additional benefits come with this. The first is that we will also be ready for anything that may appear on the horizon, be it yet another variant, another pandemic or whatever. Second, institutions will have developed trust.
Trust is an age-old principle that is key to any service or industry. Trust is essential between the person or institution providing the service and the person or group receiving the service. In higher education, students are confident that they will receive the quality education they need to succeed.
Without trust, or if trust wanes, students will disconnect or give up. If this happens, schools lose their competitive edge. Confidence is therefore the key to continually bouncing back from all that this pandemic has in store for us now and in the months to come. Fortunately, there is no mystery to trust. When you provide students, faculty and staff with what they need, they will trust you.
FERRAHS ABDELBASETDC, is an assistant professor and program coordinator for the online masters program in medical sciences at Ponce University of Health Sciences. For more information visit stlouis.psm.edu/programs/msms/faculty.