Our building is closed to students, faculty and staff for the rest of the spring semester. Faculty and students will teach and attend classes via Zoom; staff will work from home and meetings will be conducted via Zoom. Starr King is closely cooperating with our partners in the Graduate Theological Union and we encourage you to visit their COVID-19 Resources page.
Starr King School for the Ministry is determined to protect the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff, while continuing our mission of training religious and social-change leaders. School leadership will continue to watch developments closely and take all necessary and responsible steps for the sake of our community and society at large. If you have any questions or comments about our efforts, please contact the SKSM COVID-19 Monitoring Group: Dr. Gabriella Lettini (email@example.com) and Dr. Christopher Schelin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Health & Safety Information
What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a subfamily of viruses that normally cause mild respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. The novel coronavirus or SARS-COV-2 (often just referred to as “coronavirus”) is a specific viral strain which causes the disease formally labeled Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19. The virus appears to have begun with an animal-to-human transmission in Wuhan, China, sometime in December 2019.
What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. Less frequently, persons may experience other cold-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat) or diarrhea. In rare cases, the virus can lead to organ failure and death.
How is the virus transmitted?
The virus is transmitted through close contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus has a typical incubation period of 2-14 days before symptoms develop and there is some evidence that it is transmitted even when such symptoms are absent.
How dangerous is this?
So far, it appears that about 80% of persons who contract COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, with the remainder requiring hospitalization. Estimates for fatal cases range from 0.7% to over 3%. While the vast majority of infected persons will recover, it is important to note that the fatality rate for novel coronavirus is significantly higher than the flu (around 0.1%). Persons at greater risk for complications include the elderly and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease.
What precautions should I take?
If you are concerned about becoming infected or infecting others, please take the following steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze. Try to do so with your elbow or a tissue rather than your hands.
- While face masks such as surgical masks or N95 respirators can reduce the risk of infection, the CDC currently recommends facial protection only for persons who are already infected.
- Persons with a higher risk of complications, or who wish to avoid infecting friends and family with a higher risk, may wish to consider preparations to self-quarantine as necessary. You may want to stock up on extra supplies of food and medicine in order to avoid going out in public at a time when infection appears more likely. As you are able, make arrangements to work from home.
Email Scam Safety
Unfortunately, scammers are hard at work attempting to take advantage of the chaotic environment due to the coronavirus. There is a possibility that you may get some texts or emails which appear to have come from President Rosemary Bray McNatt or someone else at Starr King School for the Ministry. This is happening to congregations as well. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Please take the time to look carefully at the email addresses that these messages come from. Official communications from SKSM during this time will come from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Currently, the school does not utilize mass texting as a means of communication.
- The school will never ask you to send gift cards.
- However, the school is preparing for a Relief Fund campaign to raise funds assist to our students who may be struggling. When this occurs, emails will come from email@example.com and we will provide secure links to a giving page on our domain sksm.edu.
- If you receive suspicious messages or solicitations from someone claiming to write on behalf of Starr King School for the Ministry, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following tips were shared with us by the Director of Security from Endsight IT Company:
- Never assume all the links in a Google/Yahoo/Bing search are safe.
- Think before you click anything.
- Hover over the link to be sure it’s actually going to the intended location.
- Refuse to open attachments or click links from untrusted sources.
- Verify attachments and links with an alternative communication form like text or phone.
- Never transfer any kind of money or gift cards without verifying with the source. Use text, or phone call to verify, but never the email address making the request as it could be compromised.
- Be extremely cautious when giving any personal or other information requested.
- Keep your home workstations patched and make sure antivirus (AV) is up to date.
Classes and Staff Responsibilities
As indicated above, all in-person classes have been shifted to meeting online via Zoom for the period of March 9-March 29. Staff and faculty have been asked to continue their regular duties but work from home. All employee meetings are taking place on Zoom.
Should the spread of COVID-19 indicate a sustained or increasing risk of community transmission beyond March 29, Starr King will likely continue these restrictions through the remainder of the semester.
GTU administrative offices and the library remain open for the time being.
Chapel will continue to operate as a monthly, fully-online service. We meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 11:00 am PT.
No public events sponsored by Starr King are being scheduled for the duration of the spring semester.
We recognize that Commencement for our 2020 graduates poses a potential risk as a gathering of large numbers of people in close proximity. As of right now, there are no plans to cancel graduation exercises or move to an online format. We are preparing for such an eventuality as the situation unfolds.
Both of the study-abroad immersion opportunities for Spring 2020 have been cancelled. SKSM recommends that students, faculty, and staff avoid all international travel as well as avoid or restrict nonessential domestic travel.
The GTU Library is currently closed to all but essential personnel in compliance with a Shelter-In-Place Order issued on March 16, 2020. However, the Library continues to provide access to digital resources and provide remote services to our academic communities. The following services are in place:
- Ask-a-librarian chat: available from the library webpages, the reference librarians will be online M-F from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
- Email: send all questions (about anything) to email@example.com
- Zoom one-on-one help: by appointment, email us, and we can set up a time to meet.
- In-class instruction: we can teach a live instruction session in Zoom for your class, showing them how to search online and answer questions. This can be tailored to a particular assignment, or we can demonstrate specific resources, search strategies, and online tools.
- Quick Online Tutorial: Short Tutorial about Searching
- Distance Students Guide: Guide for Distance Students
- Extended due dates: No items will be due while we are closed, we have extended all due dates. Please login to your library account to see these changes. However, if students are leaving the bay area, the book return at 2400 Ridge Road is available for drop off of items.
- Online workshops: Yes, we are preparing more workshops to be held in Zoom. Workshops will be advertised on the library homepage and workshops page.
- Full access for special students: Some categories of people (like auditors) only had in-library access to digital materials like ebooks. For the duration of the semester the Library has extended full remote access to anyone sitting in on classes. If you have students in these categories, and they don’t know how to login, please have them email firstname.lastname@example.org
This information can also be found on the Remote Library Resources page.
Resources – Information
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Information
- Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Information
- Alameda County Public Health Department Situation Updates
- Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Information
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map
Resources – Faith Communities
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- UUA Learnings About Worship Online
- Faithlead.org – I Have Lifestreamed the Lord
- CDC Resources for Faith Leaders
Resources – Social Justice Advocacy
Resources – Personal Resilience
- Harvard – Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety
- Educational Resources for Families with Children
- A Listening Care Package for Uncertain Times
All School Meeting – PM