Wellness is…Supporting Those with Long COVID


Published: March 27, 2023 by Loida Garcia-Febo, Health and Wellness Ambassador

The pandemic changed our lives forever. At three years in, we live, love, study, and work differently. We will forever live in some sort of pandemic mode, following security measures, keeping masks in our pockets, and hand sanitizer, gloves, and Clorox towelettes in our bags. 

Although many people recovered from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that one in five Americans who had COVID could have Long COVID. People with Long COVID can experience a variety of symptoms over time.

The working definition developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services together with the CDC, various agencies and experts indicates that “Long COVID is broadly defined as signs, symptoms, and conditions that continue or develop after initial COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 infection. The signs, symptoms, and conditions are present four weeks or more after the initial phase of infection; may be multisystemic; and may present with a relapsing– remitting pattern and progression or worsening over time, with the possibility of severe and life-threatening events even months or years after infection. Long COVID is not one condition. It represents many potentially overlapping entities, likely with different biological causes and different sets of risk factors and outcomes.”

How can we support students and library workers with Long COVID?

First, let’s inform ourselves by reading about the condition on the National Library of Medicine’s LitCovid. It is important to know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published guidance about how Long COVID can be a disability under various sections of the American with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also provides guidance on how to protect workers.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services published a resource featuring information about the obligations of schools, public agencies, and postsecondary institutions to students and children: Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA: A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families. 

San José State University has developed a comprehensive Long COVID guide to accommodations. The SJSU COVID 19 Dashboard provides health advisory updated daily. The SJSU iSchool Student Services Team diligently supports students. I recently spoke with Student Support Specialist Taryn Reiner about how she supports faculty and the one-on-one help she provides to students with Long COVID. 

Across the nation, employers are providing work arrangements that include in-person, hybrid, and flexible schedules. A report published by the ALA CORE Metadata Interest Group Meeting has valuable insights from real-life scenarios. 

Librarians have definitely felt the impact of COVID and Long COVID. “We are not okay: Library worker trauma before and during COVID-19 what happens after” was an excellent webinar presenting the state of librarians dealing with this health condition in their workplaces and lives. The event’s page includes various resources and handouts for self-care and team check-in.

Websites created by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and the American Library Association are worth consulting to read about guidelines for libraries and librarians in areas such as advocacy, education, policy, research, and protocols. 

Health, Wellness, Strategies, and Policies Tips for this Week

  • Staff support in COVID-19 times: Watch the webinar “How employers can support library workers who are caregivers during Covid-19” presented by ALA COSWL to listen to practices and recommendations from library directors and library community specialists. 
  • Support people with Long COVID: This month CNN published that helping around the house, helping to set up medical appointments, respecting comfort levels, and implementing work accommodations. What are other ways of supporting that you can think of?
  • Read: “Decision-Making by and for Academic Libraries during COVID-19” an article about the study of 39 library deans and directors and the decision-making process in their institutions during COVID-19. 

Fitzgerald, Sarah R., et al. “Decision-Making by and for Academic Libraries during COVID-19.” portal: Libraries and the Academy, vol. 23 no. 1, 2023, p. 45-65. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/pla.2023.0008.


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