The Chronicle is checking in with people in the community during the COVID-19 crisis, in an ongoing segment called ‘COVID-19 and Five Questions With’. Durham College president Don Lovisa has seen the educational environment altered drastically by the pandemic.
1) Chronicle: How do you compare where we are with your initial thought process regarding COVID-19?
Lovisa: Like most, at first, I watched with interest the global nature of this pandemic and how it expanded so quickly to every corner of the world. When the first reports from China became public and we witnessed the rapid spread in Europe, it was alarming how many people were becoming infected and sad to see so many lives lost from the virus. As the situation worsened and the virus began to appear in our country and communities, there was no more guessing about the seriousness of the virus and it became evident that we had to respond and do our part to flatten the upward curve.
2) Chronicle: How has your work life been impacted?
Lovisa: My work, like many others, is now done through technology and at home. I am very fortunate to have a job that can be done from home as many others, friends, family, colleagues and community don’t have the same opportunity. Much of my job is providing leadership and planning for the future, but the past seven weeks have been more concentrated on leadership in problem-solving and responding to ever changing circumstances. With thousands of students and employees having to adapt (quickly) to online education and world, there were and are many conversations and strategies that were developed and implemented across the college and community to help students complete their education. With the college closed and everyone moving to working and studying from home, it’s been challenging, but I am impressed and very proud of how DC has pivoted and responded – we’ve completed 85 per cent of our programs online.
3) Chronicle: Outside of work, how has your daily routine changed since this has started?
Lovisa: I am a very social person and my job took me into the community for many events, meetings, social gatherings – this has all come to an abrupt end. I am now filling that gap with Facetime with family and friends, music, playing my guitar, walks outside, puzzles and some TV. As the weather gets nicer, I look forward to working in the yard and getting out on the lake.
4) Chronicle: What do you miss the most since having to socially distance?
Lovisa: I miss my children and grandchildren, I miss friends and colleagues, and having the flexibility for people to visit, and to go where I want and have access to restaurants, venues and celebrations.
5) Chronicle: What do you think of the way our leaders have responded?
Our leaders and Canadians, in general, have responded very well. The pandemic has challenged every level of leadership, and there is no such thing as perfect plans or solutions, and as such, some decisions will be better than others. What is evident is that our Prime Minister and Premier are focused on providing supports to the most vulnerable and at-risk populations. As well, our municipal leaders are providing regular updates and ensuring people have the information they need – they are demonstrating genuine concern for all citizens. And thankfully, our leaders in the healthcare field are providing good care, advice and strategies to combat the spread of the virus.