Best and worst of this week’s headlines

The University is continuing to adjust to a new reality, which has brought its fair share of ups and downs.

GW’s medical enterprise is working tirelessly to support the health and safety of the District during the pandemic, with staff taking on longer hours and working on research behind the scenes. But the Class of 2020 received word Wednesday that it will not have a Commencement speaker to accompany its virtual ceremony next month.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs up:

GW Hospital medical staff are gearing up to treat more patients diagnosed with COVID-19 as D.C. reaches its peak. Doctors, nurses and technicians are working shifts as long as 12 hours to meet the growing number of patients, while the University is providing some medical workers residence halls rooms to sleep in and self-isolate away from their families.

Meanwhile, researchers in the Milken Institute School of Public Health are working to find ways to support their colleagues on the ground. They are exploring how the pandemic disproportionately impacts low-income communities and where health care workers need to be dispersed to ensure adequate care across the country.

The University is taking an active role in responding to the pandemic, and their hard work should be valued and recognized. Although the pandemic has weighed down the GW community and prompted students to leave, it is comforting to know there are GW workers on the ground who are aiming to keep the community safe.

Thumbs down:

The University’s closure has weighed heavily on students, especially graduating seniors whose time in Foggy Bottom abruptly came to a premature end. This week brought an added dose of painful news for them: the 2020 Commencement ceremony will not feature a keynote speaker.

Sending students home and moving classes online was obviously the right move. It’s difficult to imagine an alternative that would have been better. But students who might not be able to come back to D.C. for next year’s in-person ceremony deserve some resemblance of a Commencement next month.

The Commencement speaker is a highlight of graduating, with notable figures like former First Lady Michelle Obama and most recently “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie delivering speeches. Officials must ensure the Class of 2020 receive an online Commencement ceremony they will remember for the rest of their lives. The University must try harder to make the online ceremony worthwhile.

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