Dear Members of the Campus Community,
As spring break approaches and concerns about the spread of the coronavirus grow, I write to affirm the proactive work taking place on campus across many divisions to do everything we can to protect the health of our campus community. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus.
I have been meeting regularly with our campus risk team to identify ways to reduce risk and mitigate the effects of exposure during this public health concern. Our decisions are informed by guidance from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Washington State Department of Health, U.S. Department of State, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are aware that the guidance for surrounding counties may differ, and ask that all who live or work outside of Pierce County pay attention to the advice of the local health department when making decisions about activities in those counties.
As shared with you earlier, updates about university response and planning efforts are available at pugetsound.edu/coronavirus, including a regularly updated set of frequently asked questions. We will continue to provide periodic campus updates via campus email, and ask that you check the site regularly for new information.
Over the past week we have taken a number of actions, including enhanced cleaning across campus, with special attention to high-traffic areas; increased distribution of disinfectant and hand sanitizers; identification of appropriate spaces in the event students need to be isolated or quarantined; training for faculty in the event courses need to be delivered electronically; and assistance for students studying abroad in high risk (Level 3 or higher) countries in returning home. Please see the website for details on these activities.
The campus risk team met earlier today and is issuing the following guidance to go into effect immediately:
Although campus is currently in full operation, we will cancel or reschedule events that might compromise resources needed to serve the health and safety of the campus community and our visitors. This includes events that are anticipated to draw more than 500 attendees, involve certain activities or locations, and/or include attendees beyond the campus community. If cancellations occur, the sponsors of these events will communicate to affected parties. Unless announced otherwise, university events, including athletics, music, campus tours, and campus visit days are continuing as planned.
The spread of the virus is a dynamic situation. Please refer to the appropriate agencies for guidance concerning domestic and international travel. In addition:
Registering Spring Break Travel. All students, faculty and staff members traveling outside Washington state during spring break should register their travel plans with the university: register here. This will assist the university in monitoring conditions in those areas and supporting your return.
Staying on Campus During Spring Break. We will follow our normal protocol of allowing students to stay on campus for spring break for any reason, including cancellation of travel plans. Students who plan to do so should inform their residence hall staff. Dining and other services will be provided during break.
Domestic Travel. The spread of the virus is a dynamic situation. Those traveling within the U.S. should be aware there is a chance that you could be detained and/or quarantined and unable to return to campus. At this time there are no restrictions on domestic travel, but we encourage you to reconsider domestic travel and recommend exploring alternate plans or arrangements for university-sponsored domestic travel. Please consider the use of technology or other means to conduct university business. University staff for whom travel is an essential part of your job should consult with their supervisors.
International Travel. We are not supporting university travel abroad to any country with a Level 3 or higher risk designation. Should you have plans to travel abroad, be aware that there is a chance that you could be detained abroad and/or quarantined upon your return to the U.S. Those who choose to travel outside the U.S. during spring break are advised to follow CDC guidelines and do so at their own risk.
Suspension of Campus Operations Not in Affect at this Time
As a residential campus, the university never truly closes. We may need to modify or suspend normal operations, which could include delivering class content electronically, increasing telecommuting, or reducing the presence of non-essential personnel on campus. At this time our classrooms, laboratories, clinics, residence halls, dining services, library services, and recreation and athletic facilities are all open. Please continue to check the website and your university email account for updates, including during spring break.
Please continue to practice good self-care as recommended by Counseling, Health and Wellness Services, paying particular attention to regularly washing your hands; avoiding touching your face (especially nose, mouth and eyes); and staying home if you are ill.
On behalf of all involved in our risk assessment and prevention work, thank you for your flexibility as we work together to support the health and well-being of our campus community during this challenging time.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President