NNU says 'community first' mentality helped navigate the university through COVID-19

Posted at 3:56 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 20:41:49-05

NAMPA, Idaho — Saturday marks one year since the first COVID-19 case in Idaho. Schools across the Treasure Valley switched to remote learning and Northwest Nazarene University was one of them.

Looking back at the long year filled with hard moments, the university says one positive thing that helped them through it was a “community first mentality.”

Last year around this time NNU switched to remote learning, then a hybrid schedule later in the year. With COVID-19, the university had to limit interactions among students and staff, putting the community first and reducing transmission.

“It is nothing new for us to be pouring into each other and caring for each other and loving one another, but we just had to do it in a different way this year and we did that by wearing our masks and making events that are socially distanced that can still have as many students involved as possible,” NNU senior Jace Ziegler said.

Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Mark Cork said community has always been one of the university’s core values but once COVID-19 hit, they needed to bring it to another level.

“We actually needed to put community first and to think of other people before we thought of our own needs and our own comfort,” Cork said.

Cork also said people on campus were willing to follow this mindset in order to help others stay healthy. Faculty had to reorient classrooms and the traditional worship setting also had to change to accommodate social distancing.

“It was not a normal kind of feeling but it was also what people knew that they had to do within the given situation and so not only were they willing to do that, I think they embrace the opportunity because it meant they could be together as opposed to being physically separated,” Cork said.

Ziegler says during his freshman year at NNU, they were able to hold events with over 400 people, but COVID drastically changed his senior year.

“This year we had to be wise in the ways that we created these events and how many people could come and so it was different, but I think it helped us grow in relationship with certain people that we wouldn't necessarily meet on campus normally,” Zielger said.

NNU says COVID-19 brought silver linings and helped find ways to make education more accessible and increased innovative collaboration while safely coming together for a common cause.