I must say, it has been quite surreal to read the news about Coronavirus in the world, especially in the US, mostly because it’s hard to see the people I love being affected, and it’s hard to be so far away and not able to help anyone.
On Wednesday, the President of Uganda announced that he was closing schools and churches for 32 days, effective noon on Friday. This wasn’t a huge surprise; there had been rumors floating around. Yet Wednesday was still rather tense on campus until the official announcement came at 5:00pm.
For our finalist students, this is their last semester, and they will graduate in July. Happily enough, we were in our discipleship groups before the official announcement, and I was able to check in with the students in my group. They were obviously stressed, and were very concerned about the future, especially graduation. I’m so glad that I was able to debrief with them a bit and pray with them.
It seems like the university is doing all it can to be able to reopen in May for the new semester. Students will take their exams as take-home, and will return them to Academics, who will give them to us for marking. Fortunately, I only had one lecture remaining in my classes, and the students were able to finish their courseworks, though one was due on Friday, so I encouraged them to finish it before they left.
It’s been eerily quiet near my flat. Usually when the students move out there’s a lot of noise; perhaps that will come today when they leave. But otherwise, they’ve been doing wash and preparing to go, though a lot more quietly than usual. The students I’ve seen have been fairly upbeat, though the uncertainty of the future, especially how to do their exams, is weighing on them.
I am physically fine, though I’m also wondering what the future holds. The State Department sent an email last night basically telling Americans to come back now or risk not being able to come back for some time. This isn’t a surprise; the USPs ended their semester early and will fly home this weekend. Several countries around have closed their borders, and several days ago, Uganda instituted a self-imposed 14 day quarantine on all visitors from highly impacted countries, though that seems to have now changed to visitors immediately being taken to a hotel in Entebbe (removing the self-imposed part).
Emotionally, I’m also fine, I think. Aside from crowds being banned, it seems as though life is continuing as usual here. I have some things to do in town, but I don’t venture off campus much, so that is good. I’m hoping to use the time to really make some good progress on my dissertation.
The very good news in all this is that Uganda is the model for how to handle an epidemic, such as Ebola, Marburg, etc. The breakouts that have happened in the last ten years have not gone far because of this, for which I am grateful. I am hoping this holds true.
Continue to pray for us, as I continue to pray for you.