NYFA COVID-19 Health and Campus Guidelines and Information - Updated: January 4, 2021, 1:38pm Click here for more information

Notice

NYFA COVID-19 HEALTH ALERT

April 3, 2020, 6:10pm

NYFA COVID-19 Health Alert

Dear NYFA New York,

You have endured nearly three full weeks of teaching and learning within an exclusively online environment. As you retain focus on your academic and professional responsibilities, each day you confront news of the rising global and local incidence of COVID-19 , the staggering number of deaths, confirmed and predicted, skyrocketing rates of unemployment, and to calm and instill hope, the numerous stories of first responders, health care workers and other heroes and philanthropists performing wondrous acts of kindness, compassion, courage and generosity. In the face of mind-boggling upheaval and loss, you are being challenged each and every day to harness your resiliency and take steps forward in caring for yourselves, your families, and those who are most vulnerable and needing support. Each day you are accomplishing the tough goals of adapting and finding ways to stay well and hopeful during this challenging time.

For this reason, today’s health alert addresses primarily the emotional and behavioral health and wellness needs of our community. However, I first want to bring to your attention a few important revisions of our health guidelines.

HEALTH GUIDELINES FOR NYFA NY

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the CDC is recommending all New Yorkers to wear a homemade facial covering when venturing outdoors for essential travel and exercise. Below are instructions on how to create your own face mask:

New Yorkers who have or have had symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 are being asked to participate in a project that will help scientists and physicians increase their understanding of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, and COVID-19, the disease results from coronavirus infection. To participate in this project, please access the website below:

Please also carefully read the revised Health Guidelines recently updated on The NYFA HUB for additional and important revised health guidelines for monitoring your symptoms, protecting your health, and accessing healthcare.

Also, to self-assess your risk for COVID-19 based on best clinical practices, CDC guidelines, illness severity and risk factors, such as age and preexisting conditions, use this Coronavirus Checker, developed by Emory University.

COPING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY RELATED TO COVID-19

We are living through an unprecedented time. In confronting potential threats to our health, our finances, our freedoms, our education and employment status, etc., it is normal and understandable to feel worry, fear, sadness, grief, frustration and a host of other troubling feelings. Yet even during times such as these, there are skills and attitudes one can practice and apply to feel hopeful, capable, engaged, and well.

National mental health organizations have published numerous guidelines on ways to manage the many diverse challenges we are facing. Please read the coping strategies noted below, as recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the National Association of Mental Illness, (NAMI) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMSHA):

  • Learn to recognize how you experience stress: Knowing the early warning signs for stress is key to intervening early and preventing the emergence of mental illness and compromised well-being and functioning. Below are examples of how stress may be experienced:
    • An increase or decrease in your energy or activity levels
    • Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
    • Worrying excessively
    • An increase in irritability or a lowered tolerance for frustration
    • Crying more frequently than usual
    • Wanting to self-isolate, disengage and avoid all opportunities for social engagement with others
    • Having stomachaches or headaches
    • Eating too much or too little
    • Being easily startled
    • Feeling overwhelmed by sadness
    • Having difficulty staying focused, thinking clearly, and making decisions
    • Increasing your use of alcohol, tobacco or controlled substances
    • Blaming other people for everything
    • Having difficulty giving or accepting help
    • Inability to feel pleasure or have fun
       
  • Take stock: As routines drastically change, try maintaining focus on sustaining healthy choices in regard to exercise, nutrition, sleep and hydration. If you are experiencing stress, resuming your prior routine of self-care is an important first step in improving your emotional health and well-being. See below for resources to improve sleep, nutrition and exercise.
  • Identify and express your emotions: it is normal and expected for you to feel anxious, angry, frustrated, sad, and lonely. Acknowledge that you are experiencing these emotions and observe them without judgement. In sharing your emotions with others, you will discover that you are not alone, and you will feel relief from expressing how you feel.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques, those you have practiced, or learn new techniques to add to your repertoire. See below for resources for mediation, deep breathing, mindfulness practice, yoga, etc.
  • Have compassion for yourself and others: Recognize that everyone, including yourself, is doing their best to navigate challenging and unchartered territory. Anchor yourself and avoid reacting to the emotional instability of others.
  • Stay socially connected: Reach out to others via phone, email, text, social media, Zoom, etc. Plan virtual gatherings. Reach out to the elderly or those you know who may be socially isolated to offer support.
  • Limit your access to the news: Although it is good to be informed, reading and listening to reports of increasing rising death and unemployment rates, a volatile stock market, travel bans and restrictions, etc., is anxiety provoking and distressing. To sustain your health and well-being, limit your exposure to the news. Consider getting all the information you need twice daily, within a 30-minute timeframe.
  • Develop a plan to protect your need for personal space: stay-in-place orders are forcing families and those sharing households with others to be in close proximity for extended periods of time. During a stable time of emotional neutrality, discuss with those with whom you live a plan for providing each of you some privacy and solace. If you are a victim of domestic violence, do not stay home, and safely seek protection. Call the Domestic Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate help and guidance on how to seek safety and shelter.
  • Let go of what you can’t control and focus on what remains within your control. In regard to this pandemic, we cannot control when the curve will flatten, when our campuses will reopen, how our family and friends behave in response to their hardships, and how the virus, if we are infected, will compromise our health and well-being. Yet there remains much within our control. We can control our social distancing and personal hygiene practices, we can control the attitude we adopt and the perspective we take on our predicament, we can control how we behave toward others, and we can devise plans and back-up plans for the possible scenarios that may unfold. We can also decide to create meaning and purpose as we face this extraordinary challenge. And it is important to radically accept what we cannot change.
  • Practice gratitude and positivity. Train yourself to focus on news reflecting the generosity and courage of the helpers. Take notice of the ways your life may be impacted for the better. Think creatively of how you can use this time of isolation to volunteer, help others, resume a neglected project, develop a new skill or explore a dormant interest. Keep a gratitude diary by recording each day five small things for which you are grateful.

Wellness Resources (Apps and Websites):

PROFESSIONAL MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

Students:

Faculty/Staff:

  • NYFA Employees can access an 24/7 emotional support line, staffed by trained mental health professionals. This support line provides referrals to community resources to help with emotional concerns, as well as financial and legal concerns:
    • Call 1-866-342-6842
  • Employment Assistance Program (EAP) for Faculty/Staff: no cost support can be accessed through Life Balance
  • Free weekly online support groups: Free Online Support Groups by LMFT offered through Seeking Shalom.

For additional and immediate guidance on coping with COVID-19, Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 and Coping With Stress and Social Distancing During Disease Outbreaks are both excellent resources, published, respectively, by the CDC and the NYC Department of Health.

National Mental Health Hotlines and Help Centers

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-59909
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273- TALK (8255)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • NCADV : organization committed to ending domestic violence
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP ( 24/7 Treatment Referral). Or visit website: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

STAYING CONNECTED AND ENGAGED

Staying home and learning or working through online platforms is taxing on our bodies and our spirits. It is important to stay active, eat healthfully and maintain an optimum sleep schedule. It is also important to stay connected!

The Student Life departments on the NYFA Campuses in LA, NY, and South Beach are offering students opportunities for connection through digital platforms. Upcoming events include yoga, meditation, stretching, virtual hangouts, virtual game nights, and so much more.

CREATE MEANING: VOLUNTEER

MAINTAINING YOUR FINANCIAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

NYC Residents who are struggling to feed themselves and their families are encouraged to take advantage of programs offering assistance.

For help seeking financial relief from banks, credit card companies, the federal government, etc., consult:

CONCLUDING MESSAGE

We hope that you have read this email carefully. Should you have any questions about its contents, please contact Dean Sandra Schein (sandra.schein@nyfa.edu). Also, since New York City, is being labelled as the nation’s epicenter of the coronavirus, it is likely that your family and friends living elsewhere are concerned for your well-being. If you so choose, please share with them this correspondence. Perhaps others outside of NYC can help you take the proper precautions in staying healthy and safe. And should you feel ill, your family and friends may also be able to offer you support in accessing the help you need.

We are delighted to report that the individual members of our community who had tested positive for COVID-19 are either fully recovered or on their way to recovery. We also hope that we all remain healthy for the duration of this pandemic. To achieve this hope, each of us must comply with the federal and state mandate to stay home. By staying home, you are saving lives- possibly the lives of strangers, possibly the lives of your neighbors, possibly the lives of your family and friends.

This weekend, from the comfort of your home, please enjoy a visit to The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens. Or visit at no cost some of the many NYC museums or cultural institutions featured in this Collection of Virtual Tours.

Please reach out to your campus resources for any concerns you may have regarding your health and well-being. We are eager to assist you!

Students:
Sandra Schein, Dean of Students, NY:   sandra.schein@nyfa.edu

Faculty/Staff:
Domingo Morales, Associate HR Director (NY, SoBE):   domingo.morales@nyfa.edu

Together, we will endure this challenge of resilience by sharing our strengths and uniting for the common good.

With appreciation for you all,

Sandra Schein, PhD.
Dean of Students, NYFA New York

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