DEI Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Communication Tips

coronavirus-red-3-by-2-cropThe CANR Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion developed some novel coronavirus (COVID-19) communication tips to share with the MSU community to help foster understanding and inclusion. (A digital document file is also available for download.)

Remember xenophobia can lead to a case of fear that can spread like a virus. Our responsibility is to accept all people without a specific community.

The MSU Together We Will website provides ongoing information and resources.

What is the novel coronavirus?

Public health officials across the globe are responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first detected in China that has now spread worldwide. The novel coronavirus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated“COVID-19”).

What are the COVID-19 basic health guidelines?

It's important to remember the steps you can take to prevent the spread of any virus.

  • Practice social distancing, avoiding close contact with others when possible.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid large crowds.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your doorknobs, light switches and commonly touched areas with disinfectant wipes frequently.

What can reduce our implicit biases during COVID-19?

Patience - Reflection - Empathy - Sympathy - Selfcare

P.R.E.S.S. creates time to reflect on what we are experiencing during this pandemic individually, locally and globally. Many of us may be feeling a range of emotions and stressors, combined with our concern for our loved ones, community members and society. Although our lives and routines may be altered, we still have a unique opportunity to apply issues of diversity, equity and inclusion concepts in our personal and professional lives.

How to create an inclusive virtual atmosphere?

Make sure you allow space for people to share how they are doing as it may take a few minutes to respond.

  • Faculty and staff members should build a digital foundation by holding virtual office hours for students.
  • Lead by example and organize a digital peer program for students, faculty and staff members.
  • Develop digital programming to foster community and belonging through MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning.
  • Support digital health and wellness by providing guidance for students, employees and colleagues to visit the MSU Together We Will site for ongoing information and resources.
  • Be aware of everyone’s new environment and climate change of regular routines, technology resources, community domestic/relationship violence resources and food access.
  • Develop a digital student employment plan for those who are now experiencing access to limited resources.
  • Create a list of questions to host a group chat and reflect on the responses.
  • Share MSU assistive technology and software resources by visiting RCPD Assistive Technology Center.
  • Identify your patterns and surroundings by thinking in a clear direction to host virtual sessions.
  • Provide routine and consistent anonymous surveys that inquire about the well-being and resources of others.

How can I prevent microaggressions when working from home?

  • Be aware of the impact of differences across identities such as race/ethnicity, class (socioeconomics and role within an organization), gender, gender identity, disabilities, sexual orientation and other human differences.
  • Keep in mind that our international faculty, staff and students may not be able to return to their countries or travel abroad.
  • Be aware that there are those of us that are dealing with interruptions in our households.
  • Be curious and open to understanding how the intersections of people’s identities are “showing up” to pinpoint challenges or signs of resilience.
  • Practice empathy and deep listening instead of judgment as people share their concerns and realities.
  • Diversify the resources you are reading or listening to in order to learn about how this pandemic is impacting different individuals and communities.
  • Look for examples of resilience by diverse individuals and communities of differences across race/ethnicity, class (socioeconomics and role within an organization), gender, gender identity, disabilities, sexual orientation and other human differences.
  • Return to DEI goals and outcomes that you have identified by reviewing and reflecting on ways to incorporate them today.
  • Strike down negative terms about COVID-19 virus, such as references to the virus and particular identities or
  • Affirm that this is a global pandemic that we are experiencing.
  • Acknowledge that our communities will rebuild from this pandemic.
  • Touch base with Asian student organizations and offer support.
  • Host a virtual community call to discuss the microaggressions that are happening.
  • Adjust expectations for yourself and others.
  • Understand that your well-being comes first.

DEI thoughts to keep in mind when working with students

  • Some students (rural, limited financial resources, first generation of college and students of color) may be less likely to have their own laptops, tablets and reliable internet at home.
  • Vulnerable students are personally responsible for paying all their technology and related costs.
  • Vulnerable students may rely on devices that are older, slower and more problem prone (laptops with missing software, phones with shattered screens and hardware that cannot keep a charge).
  • Students that need tech accommodations will likely be the ones most reluctant to ask.
  • Not all students have a practical understanding of technology.
  • For students, this could be the biggest interruption in their lives, but learning and access to their courses online should not be the biggest obstacle.