Thursday, March 5, 2020: College officials reconvened. Communication from the provost was sent:
As the spring break approaches, I want to urge all members of the campus community to be cautious due to the potential for more cases of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, to be discovered in this country and abroad. Trips coordinated by and through the College have been advised on procedures and protocols to attend to and minimize risk of exposure. For Juniatians undertaking personal travel, particularly in areas where the coronavirus has been identified, I encourage you to review the information on the Centers for Disease Control website, including destination information and precautions that you can take to help contain the spread of this new virus. If you are traveling abroad, please consider how your trip could affect your ability to return home, given U.S. government restrictions. The following are precautions and expectations of the College as related to travel during this period of uncertainty:
- Students, faculty, and staff who are planning to travel internationally over spring break should be mindful of the conditions they may encounter while abroad, as well as emerging travel restrictions that may disrupt their plans to travel between countries or return to the US.
- Juniatians traveling domestically over spring break should be mindful of conditions in travel locations, and maintain awareness of emerging conditions, the availability of supplies and support in destinations, and potentials for travel disruptions.
- Those who travel to or through an affected region ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/locations-confirmed-cases.html ) or who believe they may have been exposed to coronavirus, or who show signs and symptoms of flu-like illness, should delay return to campus and self-quarantine for 14 days as per current guidance, seeking medical advice as warranted.
- The Health Services, Dean of Students Office and Center for International Education are prepared to consult with travelers and provide guidance to assess and address risk, and protect the collective health of our campus community as plans are made to return to campus.
- Regardless of your spring break plans, it is important to proactively minimize the spread of viruses through good hygiene, including covering your mouth when coughing; covering your nose when sneezing; frequently washing your hands; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home if you are sick; and sanitizing personal spaces.
In addition, I also want to provide you with pertinent updates as to the various contingency plans we are developing to ensure the well being of our community while striving to maintain continuity of the academic enterprise for the duration of this public health challenge.
The key steps we have taken so far include:
- The college is reviewing the postponement or cancellation of short term study abroad programs scheduled for May as recommended by the CDC and by cross-referencing other sources of information such as the World Health Organization (WHO). In making decisions, we consider the level of emergency of the US Department of State as well as the likelihood that travel will be impeded in trying to return to the US. Information on restrictions and areas of concern can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/locations-confirmed-cases.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html
- The Center for International Education is in regular communication with our students who are currently studying abroad. We are encouraging those in Continental Europe to return to the US and will assist them in curricular planning should they make that decision. We will continue to monitor the situation around the world and will communicate that encouragement to students elsewhere as local circumstances warrant.
- The Provost's Office is working with CTS to assess the feasibility of delivering coursework online via Moodle and Zoom if necessary.
These efforts are being coordinated and managed by the Emergency Operations Team that we have in place. This group has been and will remain in regular communication and will remain so to monitor conditions and make decisions. Juniata is an inclusive community, with students, faculty and staff from all over the world. We are committed to preserving and maintaining the health and safety of all members of our community as we are also committed to respecting their privacy and dignity; we will make our decisions accordingly.
I will provide additional updates as this situation develops. In the meantime, I appreciate your understanding and cooperation in taking all necessary precautions.