Dear APS Community,Depart Chair Professor Nils W. Halverson

I’m writing to remind you that, even though we are all now working remotely, the APS staff and I are here for you. The APS staff have put together a webpage dedicated to providing resources and current information for the APS community. Please email Steph, Jose, Troy, or me if you have a question or concern that is not addressed on that webpage, or if a correction/update is needed.

I know that this is an anxious and disorienting time for everyone in our community.  Many of our undergraduate and graduate students, including our TA’s and LA’s, have gone home or moved to other locations. (TA’s and LA’s continue to do their jobs remotely.) Those who are parents are now likely to be juggling working (from home), child care, and home schooling. Some of us lack the resources to do remote work efficiently, including internet and computer, and most importantly, a living space where we feel safe.

I just want to let you know that, if you are struggling with this new normal, you are not alone. We understand that almost everyone’s work and life circumstances have been upended these past few weeks. We are all figuring this out together. Let me know right away if you need assistance in performing course work or other work.

Here are a few things that my family and I have found helpful in recent days, for you to consider:

  1. Create some structure to your day. Our family wrote down a rough daily schedule and posted it on the refrigerator door. On it are included: house chores, work/home-school, getting outside/exercise, creative and planning time, and (remote) socializing and community time. The schedule helps us to orient and balance our day and get necessary work done as well as important self- and others-care.
  2. Practice self-care. Don’t forget to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs on a daily basis.
  3. Maintain and build community. We can make and build friendships, even though we are all practicing social distancing. This might include a video or phone call, text, email, social media, etc.
  4. Practice compassion. Now, more than ever, it helps to be sympathetic with others’ circumstances, be understanding if someone is angry or upset, assume others have positive intentions, and contribute to the solution.  

Finally, if there is a silver lining in this difficulty time, I have been grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with my family, be more appreciative of small daily moments of joy, and having some newly discovered time to reflect and think about the big picture and long-term plans.

I hope that you are safe, healthy, and productive, but also understand if you are not. Please reach out to Steph, Jose, Troy, or me if you need anything.


Nils W. Halverson
Chair, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences