It is a time for action, and a time for community engagement. Our local and global communities face unprecedented challenges due to a public health crisis and economic fallout that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. The work continues for ongoing issues that have persisted for decades or centuries, such as racial injustice. The need for political engagement is heightened in advance of an upcoming historic election.
And yet, it is also a time to adapt and expand how we act.
In this moment, traditional strategies of community engagement such as direct service may do more harm than good, especially with communities disproportionally burdened by and vulnerable to COVID-19. We must recognize that the risk of spreading the virus through direct community interaction may ultimately outweigh the benefits of doing so.
With all of this in mind, the CCE strongly encourages you to engage in community work indirectly, including virtually. Until further notice, please suspend community engagement and service activities through which you directly interact with external community populations.
Community Engagement COVID Guidelines:
The following apply to CC(E)-sponsored activities, programs and student organizations; CC(E) student employees; and individual volunteering occurring in Colorado Springs and/or in the places in which you live.
(1) Learn and Reflect – Engagement is a long-term journey; we encourage you to take this time to learn, listen, and do the internal work necessary to develop into an effective changemaker. Attend blockly, virtual workshops through the CCE Changemaker Curriculum and explore educational resources here.
(2) Engage Virtually – Join one of the CCE’s new issue-based coalitions, take on a virtual community project along with a small group of your peers, find virtual volunteer opportunities here, or explore these general ideas for how to engage remotely at this time.
(3) Engage Indirectly from campus or your home – You can support the issues/organizations you care about through work completed on campus or in your homes (e.g. putting together care packages, writing letters to political representatives) in which you only engage with other students or family members. See opportunities to do so in Colorado Springs here, and/or get involved with virtual BreakOut Saturday and block break programming!
(4) Engage from a Distance – Engage through opportunities that are outside, socially distanced, and involve no more than 1-2 community members (e.g. trail work, creek clean-up). If you will remain in Colorado Springs, please see approved opportunities to do so here, and/or get involved with BreakOut Saturday and block break programming!
(5) Follow Best Practices for In-Person Work – If it is necessary to engage in community work in which you will directly interact with peers or community members, follow all CDC, CC, and governmental recommendations, guidelines, and policies.
(1) Engage Directly –
a. Do not engage in ways that involve interaction with more than two external community members.
b. Do not directly interact with communities that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, including elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
We recognize and affirm the creativity of our students and partners in brainstorming lower-risk ways to engage in community work. We also recognize that the work of your student organization or volunteering may fall in a gray area under these guidelines. The CCE and Campus Activities will partner this year to work with individuals and groups to address questions, brainstorm solutions, and collectively determine whether particular community engagement activities can proceed under these guidelines, on a case-by-case basis. firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure that students are familiar with COVID guidelines and best practices, we ask that any students participating in community work review and sign the Community Engagement COVID Agreement as a way to commit to and hold ourselves accountable to intentional action during this time.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Colorado Springs School District 11 should also read through and abide by their guidelines, which can be found here.
The CCE’s mission is to promote engaged citizenship, cultivating a sense of shared responsibility for addressing collective problems, recognizing that we each have a stake in one another’s futures. On a fundamental level, being a citizen means to intentionally and critically bear in mind the social consequences of personal actions and decisions. In this moment, a critical way to be an engaged citizen is by reducing social contact to help stop the spread of the virus locally and around the world.
This continues to be an evolving situation, and any additional information or changes to these guidelines will be sent promptly. Stay tuned for more information for students in CCE programs on upholding program commitments.