This post may include outdated information. See the latest updates on our evolving response here.
We at the Whidbey Institute are working to make a safe, proactive, and appropriately-scaled response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our thoughts go to the communities, both internationally and here in Washington State, where this illness has taken lives—and to all our communities and their most vulnerable members. Keeping our program participants, program leaders, neighbors, and team members safe is essential. Below, you’ll see facts about COVID-19, information about our response, guidelines on when to stay home, and a temporary revision to our cancellation policy as well as information on how to contact us or learn more about the virus.
Like many challenges of today—climate change, mass extinction, racism, environmental destruction, resource inequity—the coronavirus threat is both personal and collective. On the one hand, we fear for ourselves and our families. We want to insulate, isolate, protect. On the other hand, solutions to challenges like this one come in community. This is a time to check on your elderly friend, to go to that neighborhood gathering, to attend that program that will support your resilience and leave you more resourced, more empowered, and better connected.
At the Whidbey Institute, we gather to learn how to collectively and generatively engage with the challenges of our times. While we are charged with keeping people safe, we’re also charged with serving the cultural transformation that’s underway. We’re in conversation with other transformational learning centers about how to move forward in this moment, and like the Whidbey Institute most are choosing to continue offering programming that brings people together around the issues that face us all. Like the Whidbey Institute, most centers are also stocking up on hand sanitizer and CDC hygiene protocols!
This is a nurturing space and we need your help to care for the health of the whole community.
Facts about COVID-19, from the CDC:
You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms.
The symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low.
Some people who have traveled to places where many people have gotten sick with COVID-19 may be monitored by health officials to protect their health and the health of other people in the community.
For up-to-date information, visit CDC’s coronavirus disease situation summary page.
Additional facts about COVID-19:
- Elders and people with existing health concerns are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. We must ensure that our collective response includes care for the most vulnerable members of our community. Here’s a resource from the National Council on Aging.
- Asians and people of Asian descent have been targeted in xenophobic attacks as a result of widespread fear and misinformation about this virus, which originated in Wuhan, China but which attacks people of all races and nationalities without discrimination. A healthy response to COVID-19 must include caring for all community members and dispelling myths that perpetuate racism.
- There are multiple reasons someone may cough, sneeze, or choose to wear a mask—including seasonal allergies and non-contagious health concerns.
- COVID-19 has been identified in Washington State, however the facilities in question are under quarantine and there are no suspected or confirmed cases on Whidbey Island as of this time.
- Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly by respiratory transmission. Good hygiene practices can help prevent transmission.
- For reliable information about COVID-19, turn to a non-biased news source. Here’s the CDC’s website.
What we’re doing:
- Daily sanitation of doorknobs, light switches, and other commonly-touched surfaces, and moving from green cleaners to more powerful anti-viral cleaners, including alcohol and bleach, for the immediate future.
- Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer at the front of the buffet line and is encouraging all people to sanitize before serving food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also offered at the welcome table and in the staff office.
- Posting CDC hygiene tips in all bathrooms, offering advice on hand washing and other ways to stay safe.
- Each group, and each person coming to the Whidbey Institute, is navigating unique concerns; we are working with our program leaders to make sure that if folks are at high risk or are concerned that they may be sick, they feel supported in staying home.
When to stay home:
- We ask you to stay home if you’re feeling sick, especially if you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
- If you are traveling internationally for a program at the Whidbey Institute, we invite you to look at the CDC information for travelers first. Several airlines are adjusting their flight-change fees and penalties to allow more flexibility for travelers impacted by the Coronavirus.
We invite patience as our collective experience with this virus unfolds. Our cancellation policy for individuals for lodging, facilities, and meal expenses reads as: “We understand that life challenges emerge and changes happen; we request your help in ensuring that we are operating together in integrity. If you find it necessary to cancel, a full refund will be given if notice is received at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the session. For cancellations received less than two weeks prior to the start date, no refund can be given, barring exceptional emergencies.”
We consider COVID-19 an exceptional emergency. While this region remains on high alert for COVID-19, any registrant may cancel without penalty at any time—and with a full refund—if they are ill. If a registrant chooses to cancel due to concerns about contracting the virus while traveling or convening, the cancellation penalty will likewise be waived. In this latter case, we invite your sensitivity to the financial health of the Whidbey Institute and the revenue we need to support our land, facilities, and team. If you wish to waive your refund and have it applied as a tax-deductible donation, we would be extremely grateful.
Process for contacting us:
Please address your inquiries to Marnie, [email protected]. Depending on the nature of your question, she’ll point you to the team member best equipped to help.
- World Health Organization Coronavirus information
- King County (Seattle) Coronavirus FAQs
- Island County Public Health Coronavirus information
- South Whidbey Record article about low risk on Whidbey Island.
Please watch our blog for future updates on this topic and others.
With appreciation and well wishes for our collective health,
Heather, Marnie, Meg, and the Whidbey Institute team