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Community Health Announcements

UPDATED at 4:21pm, Thursday March 26th, 2020

We continue to have 0 (zero) cases of COVID-19 within our Otis College community. 
Globally, there are now over 525,000 cases of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is now seen in numerous countries around the world with Europe and now the US being hit the hardest with a daily increase of new cases. The US now leads the world in the highest number of cases of COVID-19 globally. As of today, March 26th, there are over 82,000 cases in the US with NY State leading with the most amount of cases; California is currently the 3rd highest. Los Angeles County has 1,216 cases with 21 deaths. 

This new information continues to reinforce the importance of social distancing and remaining at home as much as possible. As a reminder, on March 19th, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a “Stay at Home” order for the entire state of California. This order was placed to help mitigate any further spread of the coronavirus. Please continue to practice social distancing, which is defined as remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely. 

Please Be Well!!
-The SHWC at Otis College of Art and Design

UPDATED at 4:46pm, Monday, March 23, 2020

We continue to have 0 (zero) cases of COVID-19 within our Otis College community. LA county is seeing an uptick in cases with 536 cases in the county, with 7 deaths.

Dear Otis College Community,

As a community, we are all likely experiencing some emotional discomfort given the spread of Covid-19 and the disruption to our lives. Here at Student Counseling services we wanted to reach out to all of you to reassure you that we are here to support you and we will get through this difficult time together. Whatever you are experiencing emotionally is NORMAL.  Weather you are experiencing moments of disbelief, irritability, sadness, lack of motivation, challenges with concentration, fluctuations in appetite or disturbances in sleep, AGAIN, this is NORMAL. So how do we stay emotionally well during these times? Here are some helpful skills and resources: 

Know that the College is committed to you: you’re the reason we exist!  So we’re working very hard to plan carefully and ensure your studies, growth, and campus connections continue.

Be careful of Covid-19 overload.  Limit the time you spend taking in Covid-19 news.  It’s coming at us from all directions and this can be downright overwhelming.  Turn off/stop reading the news.  Maybe check in once a day.

Be careful of Covid-19 misinformation.  Rumors abound about what’s open, what’s not, what’s closing, and so on.  Check out rumors for yourself by going to reputable sources.  Check out state and local government sites for up to date information about closings.  Go to the World Health Organization (  or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( for correct information about the virus.

Our emotions reside in our bodies, so take good care of yours!  
• Maintain a regular sleep schedule—try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time.
• Work towards maintaining good nutrition and regular meals.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Limit caffeine intake.
• Get some exercise!
• Spend some time outside, in nature, especially.
• Practice deep breathing, relaxation, yoga, Qigong.  Not sure how to do these? YouTube!!
• Try taking up an activity that requires use of your body and mind, which can give you an emotional break: knitting, art, playing an instrument, etc.

Social connection is really good for us too!  Maintain social distance, of course, but stay in touch with friends.  You might even try the old-fashioned art of letter writing!

Maintain a schedule, just as you would if at school.  Meals, classes, study time, relaxation time.  Having a schedule helps us contain emotions and feel a sense of control.  

Consider keeping a journal about what this experience is like for you.  But be sure to end your daily entry with 3 good things about the day, however small, to help keep your spirits up.

Maintain perspective.  While this is a HUGE event for all of us, remind yourself of what’s good in your life and what’s important: health, friends, being able to continue towards your degree, religion, and spirituality.

Spend time with your four-legged friends.  Some snuggle time with your pets can make a tough day a lot easier. 

Take the focus off of yourself: do something kind for someone else.  If you can’t visit in person, call!  

Consider making use on one of the many mental health apps that are available for free and for pay.  You might find this link helpful in finding something that speaks to you.

Student Counseling Services at Otis: 
• For students remaining in California: we are able and willing to provide therapy services virtually.  Please phone us for an appointment (310)-846-5738.
• For students who are no longer in California:  We are happy to assist you in finding a local provider.  

Helpful Links on managing stress & anxiety over COVID -19:

James Birks, LMFT
Counseling Director
Student Health & Wellness
Student Counseling Services

UPDATED at 11:38am, Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We continue to have 0 (zero) cases of COVID-19 within our Otis College community. 
COVID-19 cases worldwide have now surpassed 200,000 in number. Per the CDC, the COVID-19 pandemic epicenter has now shifted from mainland China to Europe, with most European countries seeing the most increase in cases over the last few days. 

The CDC has also updated its travel health notices. China, Iran, most European Countries, United Kingdom and Ireland, have all been listed as Level 3 areas with widespread, ongoing transmission with specific restrictions on entry to the US on travelers from these areas. Malaysia and South Korea are both listed as Level 3 Travel Health notice with widespread ongoing transmission but without restrictions on entry into the US. The entire globe has remained at a Level 2 travel health notice: ongoing community transmission. 

The current situation in the US: Per the CDC, different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity. The United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states, where community spread is occurring, are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response. California is one of the three states listed with continued community spread of the virus. The LA County of Department of Public Health has listed the most updated number of cases in Los Angeles County as 144 with one death. 

At Otis College, the campus has been closed until further notice to help mitigate the continued spread of the virus through increasing social distancing, which has now bee recommended not to assemble more than ten people in one area. The SHWC has decided to remain open to help all our students with their healthcare needs. However, to help limit the amount of exposure to all, we will be moving to a fully scheduled appointment model. This means if you need either a medical or a counseling appointment, you are required to CALL the SHWC first; we will not accept any walk-ins. Virtual appointments, via telephone or Zoom, will be offered for both medical and counseling services. If someone feels that they need to be seen in person, please call the Center first, and we can instruct you further. For now, we are maintaining regular business hours: 9:00-4:30, M-F. Students who are enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan will continue to have healthcare coverage until the enrollment end date of August 14, 2020. Details regarding Anthem coverage can be found here. If they have not already done so, students can access their health insurance plan details and insurance card by following the instructions here.

At this time, we are all likely experiencing some emotional discomfort (or worse!)--given the spread of COVID-19 and the disruption to our lives.  Grief at losing out on experiences, frustration, uncertainty—all are normal reactions at this time.  The situation is new and unpredictable!  And the College’s precautionary change to remote learning represents a significant sea-change for us all.  So how do we stay emotionally well during these times, when we’re separated from friends and our college “home”? Please visit this link for further tips on staying well emotionally and mentally during these uncertain times. 

Please Be Well!!

If you are distressed or stressed about the current situation surrounding COVID-19, please remember that SHWC Student Counseling Services is available for all student needs. 

The SHWC will be open for both medical and counseling appointments during Spring Break with our normal business hours. 

If you are distressed or stressed about the current situation surrounding COVID-19, please remember that SHWC Student Counseling Services is available for all student needs. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or symptoms of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue and clean your hands immediately. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands). 
  • Limit close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

If a student feels ill, please call the SHWC at 310.846.5738, before coming into the center, to receive further instructions. 

These steps will help to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses.

The SHWC is keeping abreast to the rapidly changing situation and will continue to alert the Otis College community periodically.

For more information, please visit the following sites: 
World Health Organization 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Los Angeles County Health Department 

Psychological Tips for Managing Coronavirus Concerns

Recognizing Distress - A Self-Check List
• Increased anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed
• Depressive symptoms that persist and/or intensify
• Inability to focus or concentrate accompanied by decreased academic performance
• A feeling of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future
• Sudden anger and disruptive behaviors or noticeable changes in personality
• Sleep difficulties 
• Excessive Crying
• Isolating or withdrawing from others, fear of going into public situations
• Unhealthy coping (e.g., increased alcohol or drug use, engaging in risky/impulsive behaviors)

Psychological Health Tips
• Acknowledge reactions. Allow yourself time to reflect on what you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties of the future. 
• Maintain your day-to-day normal activities and social outlets. Resist withdrawing and isolating yourself from the support and caring that others can provide.  
• Seek accurate information from “The Center for Disease Control & Prevention” and limit exposure to social media and news reports that provide no new information. 
• Pay attention to positive news instead of only focusing on negative and fear-producing reports.
• Follow the protection and prevention tips given by medical professionals such as the Health & Wellness Center here on campus, national medical authorities and your own medical doctor.
• Practice calming rituals: Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening. 
• Seek supports & use campus resources. Reach out to friends and family and learn about campus resources available. If you or someone you know has high distress that does not seem to be lessening, talk about it with others or come to the counseling center. Your campus community is here to help!

Avoid Stigmatizing or Generalizing 
• Be aware of your behavior or attitude change towards others from another country
• Avoid generalizing anyone who is sick as potentially having the Coronavirus 
• Examine any irrational or rigid thoughts that can exist when there is uncertainty

Additional information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) egarding tips for care of your mental health during an infectious disease outbreak can be found here.

Public Health Tips to Prevent Spread of Respiratory Illnesses

We, in the SHWC, continue to stress the importance of taking individual measures to help prevent the spread of germs. Here are everyday actions we can all do to help respond to this emerging public health threat. 
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.