DLSPH Open: Taking care of ourselves and others during COVID-​19

April 6/2020

Dear Colleagues,

As we continue to adapt our teaching, research and service activities in response to COVID-19 and its related challenges, I am proud of how the DLSPH community has demonstrated resiliency and come together to support each other.

Adalsteinn Brown
Professor and Dean

Adapting to significant change and uncertainty has an impact on productivity and well-being, and we must be mindful of our physical and psychological health. It’s important for everyone to acknowledge that we are not going to be at our most productive under these conditions.

Professor Aisha Ahmad at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy offers useful advice on the matter in, Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Sharing her own experience of adapting to crises, Ahmad writes:

“While it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now.”

She also offers interesting insights on the power of adjustment and how pandemics force us to challenge assumptions, consider bold new ideas and integrate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only challenged our faculty and students to teach, learn and conduct research in new ways, it has also presented challenges related to discrimination and marginalization that we must guard against.

The U of T Human Resources and Equity Office has observed increased harassment complaints following the shift to online learning. Faculty within the DLSPH have also reached out to me regarding challenges some Asian students are facing around racism linked to COVID-19.

Professor Roberta Timothy in DLSPH’s Social and Behavioural Health Science Division published an op-ed in The Conversation entitled, Coronavirus is not the ‘great equalizer’ — race matters. Exploring racism in the wake of COVID-19, she writes:

“The local and global impacts of racism and health violence is insidious and the need for racialized data is critical…If we are to truly survive this global pandemic and support the most impacted communities, we must drastically decolonize and change our health ideologies and practices.”

The DLSPH is committed to its core values of equity and diversity and condemns all forms of discrimination and racism. We believe that equity, human rights, diversity, and inclusiveness are foundational for promoting public health and providing a place of academic excellence for our students and our faculty.

As we participate in more virtual learning environments, all members of our community are expected to demonstrate respect for one another. Insults related to racial identity will not be tolerated. During these difficult times, we remain committed to our Statement on Diversity and Equity as a foundational marker of the School. We are also committed to supporting all individuals who experience any forms of racism and working in partnership with those affected to co-create inclusion strategies.

We are just at the beginning of this pandemic and we’ve seen our community come together to support each other. Let’s continue to build on this community of support to get through this difficult time.

Please stay safe, healthy and reach out if you need help.

Sincerely,

Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown
Professor and Dean, DLSPH