In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Naval War College has embraced new ways of communicating by holding its first online all-hands meeting for faculty and staff members and a public virtual town hall meeting through Facebook Live.
“This is our new normal. This is how we’re going to operate for the next period of time,” Rear Adm. Shoshana S. Chatfield, Naval War College president, told the faculty and staff on March 18 in a virtual all-hands call. “That could be two months or the end of the trimester.”
Chatfield and a handful of other college leaders spoke from Spruance Auditorium, which was empty except for the speakers on the stage. Employees watched a livestream broadcast on the college’s intranet and were able to send questions electronically in real time.
“We are flexing all of our options and all of our capabilities to keep our education readiness and to focus on our health and well-being,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield praised the faculty and staff for acting rapidly to move all lectures and seminars to the online format as of Monday, March 16.
“It was a quick transition to an online learning environment,” she said. “We did it in time, in time for people to be able to have flexibility when children found out that schools weren’t going to be in session. We did it in time so we weren’t rushing to catch up when the Department of the Navy indicated that we needed to increase social distancing and move to teleworking.”
For the March 20 Facebook Live town hall, more than 500 viewers were online at the same time to ask about the impact of COVID-19.
Chatfield gathered in her office with Provost Lewis Duncan, Command Master Chief Keith Webb and Cmdr. Jeffrey Morin, director of personnel, to field questions.
Chatfield made the point that the college leaders were seated more than six feet apart, in accordance with social-distancing guidelines.
“I’m looking for ways to connect. And I’m encouraging others to connect via all the means you have,” Chatfield told the video audience.
“Every afternoon, when I sign off from my team, I remind them that I’m available by text message, email, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, telephone and willing to join them on any other platform,” Chatfield said. Earlier in the day, she “attended” a reenlistment ceremony at the college via Facetime.
“I encourage everyone out there to do the same. Connect virtually to keep this spirit of community and family that we have here at the U.S. Naval War College,” she said.
Chatfield also led a moment of silence for all Americans who have fallen ill or passed away from COVID-19.
The archived Facebook Live video is available on the college’s Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/NavalWarCollege/videos/204450364149554/
More information about the Naval War College’s response to the COVID-19 virus is available here: https://usnwc.edu/News-and-Events/News/US-Naval-War-College-Transitions-to-Online-Lectures-and-Seminars-Postpones-Events-to-Fight-COVID-19.