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Partnering with parents in COVID-19 response

Published on June 01, 2020

Partnering with parents in COVID-19 response

Family Day, fall semester

Move-in Day, fall semester

Family Day, fall semester

Move-in Day, fall semester

Family Day, fall semester

Move-in Day, fall semester

The following was written by Candace DeAngelis, director of Student Activities, and Casey Kensey, director of New Student & Family Programs.

The COVID 19 pandemic has certainly cast a wide net of uncertainty across higher education. Closing the Eastern Connecticut State University campus and moving to online learning this spring was no easy task. Many campuses are still struggling with how to function moving forward. There are more questions than answers, but if one thing is certain, it’s that the staff in the Division of Student Affairs know how to deal with crisis.

In the Student Activities Office, we scrambled to cancel events and support our students as they transitioned back home in March. When the news hit and plans to shut down the University were announced, we had no choice but to move quickly. The question weighing on our minds: “How would we deliver so much information to so many in such a short period of time?” 

We began immediately to work on an initiative that would help support not only our students, but also their parents and families during this difficult time. We called on motivational speaker and educational trainer Michael Miller to assist us in connecting virtually with our parents and families.  After much planning and discussion, we decided to offer guidance, strategies to manage, and motivation to persevere through a series of online presentations.

Links to recorded video presentations and live meet ups were emailed to Eastern students and families and posted on Student Activities social media accounts. We utilized our growing parent Facebook group to help spread the word about our series. A schedule was developed to provide parents with support, resources and answers to their questions in an honest and timely way.

  • April 8: “Dealing with Change in Uncertain Times” (helping parents cope)
  • April 22: “Living Better Together” (a live parent meet-up for questions)
  • April 29: “Graduating Senior Parent Meet-up” (support and information on graduation)
  • May 6: “Reducing the Stress” (an interview with the Director of Counseling & Psychological Services, Director of Housing & Residential Life and the Dean of Students)

The program has had very positive responses from parents, staff and administrators. Campus partners also used the momentum we created with parents to share critical information from departments such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Housing and Residential Life and Academic Advising.

Throughout the series, we made sure to utilize parents as a resource. Forming a partnership with them not only aided in communicating important, timely information to our students and their families, but it also served to help students and families cope with the uncertainty and navigate this unchartered territory. 

Written by Candace DeAngelis and Casey Kensey

Categories: Student Activities