Statement on COVID-19 and IBS operations through 2020

M. Editor  |  June 24, 2020

Whereas several Bay Area counties and the State of California are slowly reopening or ending shelter in place orders, and whereas several colleges and universities across the state and nation are planning on “business as usual” in the fall, we must look at the COVID-19 situation clearly and realize that all available scientific evidence tells us that the coronavirus has not magically disappeared. Treatments and vaccines remain elusive. And it will likely return in the fall forcing another round of shelter in place orders.

As a result, we have decided that the best course of action is to continue to operate largely, if not entirely, remotely through the end of the 2020 calendar year, and to maintain online courses through the fall semester.

We make this decision out of an overabundance of caution and compassion to protect our community and guard against the disruption caused by fully reopening the school, only to have to transition to remote modalities in response to further outbreaks later in the year. Remaining in this distance modality will ensure the safety of our community and consistency, allowing us to keep to our core mission of providing quality graduate education to our students.

Many of our fall courses were already scheduled to be online. Other on-site courses would have allowed for virtual participation via Zoom. Still other courses will need to be modified for distance learning modalities, and the faculty and Dean will spend time this summer focusing on distance education course design and pedagogy.

We need to keep in mind that IBS is a tenant of the Jodo Shinshu Center, and that the Buddhist Churches of America will be putting into place additional protocols on accessing the building. Just as IBS needs to care for its community of staff, faculty, and students, we need to care for our extended community of other tenants who use the JSC. Thus, we’d like to remind our community that we are required to abide by and respect the protocols the BCA puts into place.

Students should avail themselves of the resources available at the Graduate Theological Union, including the COVID-19 information page which includes updates from all member schools, remote library resources, and other important information.

The coming weeks and months will be a time of planning during which we will put into place systems and procedures to best support each of us in our work moving ahead. The remainder of the year will not be a return to normal. But we know that through communication and collaboration, respect and trust, we will be able to continue the smooth operation of IBS. We are deeply grateful for everyone’s support as we navigate this new terrain.

David Matsumoto, President
Scott Mitchell, Dean