UWC-USA and COVID-19

UWC-USA and COVID-19

UWC-USA leadership and staff are addressing the COVID-19 virus through education, precautionary procedures, and frequent communication. Please review the following letter from our president, Victoria Mora, and a number of FAQs below.

Greetings from UWC-USA,

Out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with the emerging practice of residential schools and colleges in the United States, we have decided to shift to an online learning model for the remainder of the semester. All of our students are returning home or have been placed with host families. We expect all of our students to be settled off campus by Friday March 20, 2020. At this point, we intend to be a test site this spring both for our students who remain in the area and for other UWCs. 

We have consistently relied on two overarching principles to guide us in our decision-making about the novel coronavirus pandemic: steadfast commitment to the well-being of our students and our community and minimal disruption to our students’ education. 

Our faculty and staff are now laser focused on online learning, making sure students have a plan to complete their IB requirements, and helping students out of the area to arrange alternate test sites. We will also be looking for opportunities for students to engage in online activities to meet their ExEd requirements. This is a lot of change and a lot of work in short order, but our faculty and staff have responded with such creativity and energy that I know we’ll thrive even in the midst of these challenges. I am grateful to work with such fine and resourceful people. I don’t wish for more adversity, but if more came, I’m fully confident we are a match for it.

In fact, we are looking, even as we move quickly, at ways this could strengthen our institution. We have experimented with online learning as part of our outreach to incarcerated youth in detention centers in Albuquerque, but this provides us an opportunity to look more closely at ways online learning can strengthen our instruction and curriculum. Similarly, we will be forging greater partnerships with other IB schools as we work with them to support our students taking IB exams this spring. These are important relationships that we can continue to foster for the betterment of all IB schools. And of course, we are collaborating with our colleagues across the UWC movement, all of whom have stepped up to respond to the Coronavirus in their national and school context.

As I look ahead, I feel both intense gratitude and even greater conviction. I am grateful for the outpouring of support from Get-Away Families in our local community, alumni, and parents of current students who have reached out to help us place students who cannot go home. Within 48 hours we had over 60 families who agreed to host up to three students each. Incredible. And humbling. I also feel an even deeper sense of conviction that how we have gone about facing this crisis has been as important as what we have done. We have listened to our students and employees, and engaged them in this process with a focus on facts and compassion. 

Thank you to all who have sent supportive thoughts and prayers to our community. A UWC education is about helping students dig deep when they are challenged. We are living out that learning model guided by the UWC mission right now!

Looking forward with gratitude,

Victoria J. Mora
President, UWC-USA

A “novel coronavirus” is a strain that has not previously been found in humans. Although the current coronavirus outbreak involves a new virus that has not been previously identified, coronaviruses are not rare. The common cold is a coronavirus.

Many coronaviruses can spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected person. Scientists believe the new virus can spread from person to person in close contact through the respiratory tract.

Coronaviruses can cause a range of symptoms, including runny nose, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and fever. Some are mild while others can lead to pneumonia and other complications.

Because UWC-USA has moved to an online learning model, for a two week period we have moved to a remote operation with the exception of security and other basic services. Visitors at this time are not allowed and staff who live on site are discouraged from having guests on campus. Mandatory screenings will be conducted by our security staff. 

The Dwan Light Sanctuary is closed to the public and all campus tours have been cancelled until further notice.

Yes, they are officially closed. On the advice of public health officials, the Montezuma Hot Springs are closed to the public until further notice.

  • Everyone should exercise good hand-washing and coughing and sneezing hygiene (coughing or sneezing into your elbow, not your hands). Hand sanitizer is also recommended. This advice applies to cold and flu season as well.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  • Faculty or staff who display symptoms should not come to work or class.
  • Students with symptoms should not attend class.
  • Any member of our community with a fever should not return to work or class until they have been fever-free (without fever-reducing medication) for 24 hours. 

Dean of Academics Alexis Mamaux is working with students to develop a plan for education continuity. We recognize that each student will have a slightly different path forward. Alexis is in routine contact with parents, students, and National Committees. For families or students who have questions, please contact Alexis via email: alexis.mamaux@uwc-usa.org

Because our students are dispersed around the world, we will not have a graduation ceremony this year.

Yes. At this point we are not entirely sure what that will look like or how the pandemic will play itself out. Right now we anticipate opening and running our school year as planned.

The outpouring of support from alumni, current parents, and friends has been staggering and reminds us how fortunate we are. At this point we have no pressing needs. If you would like to reach out to UWC-USA, please complete our contact form here.

The CDC has more information available about COVID-19 and how to help prevent its spread.

If you would like to sign up for email updates from the CDC, please follow this link.

New Mexico’s U.S. Senator, Martin Heinrich, has launched a resource page which includes resources in Spanish.

Johns Hopkins has a definitive tracker that records the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and around the world.

“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare. We need to reach out to everyone with words that inform, but not inflame. We need to encourage everyone to prepare, but not panic.”

Michael O. Leavitt, former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services