Coronavirus Update - March 2, 2020 - from President Smith

March 2, 2020

Students, faculty and staff:

Since my initial message to campus regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Jan. 31, University leadership has been closely monitoring the spread of the virus and the additional travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department. Primary teams involved in this process include the Office of the President, the Provost’s office, the Dean of Students, and Academic Programs Abroad, among others.

We continue to proactively monitor the situation and are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of State, and the Washtenaw County Health Department. The University community will be notified if there is any immediate health threat.

There are no reported cases at Eastern or in Michigan at this time. We are taking multiple precautions to ensure the continued health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff. Normal University operations continue, and there are no current plans to cancel main campus classes. The University is committed to sharing important updates to keep students, faculty and staff safe and informed. Information and resources can be found at our Coronavirus information website.

Travel restrictions

Pursuant to existing practice, the University is suspending all University-sanctioned travel to countries that have level three or level four travel advisories as reported by the U.S. State Department. The list is updated regularly on the State Department Travel Advisory website.

Following careful review of guidance from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO), and out of an abundance of caution, the University is implementing the following updates to travel restrictions:

  • All future University-affiliated travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran is suspended, effective immediately.
  • The University strongly recommends that all students, faculty and staff avoid all personal travel to China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea.
  • Any member of the University community who travels to or from China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea is required to self-identify prior to returning to campus and must self-monitor for 14 days. Students, faculty and staff returning from these countries must contact the Dean of Students office at [email protected]. The University needs a single point of contact with county, state and federal agencies to coordinate and track information on behalf of the Provost’s office.
  • Public health advisories and health precautions can change with little notice. Current guidance is country-specific. Students, faculty and staff returning from Italy who are symptom free must self-monitor but can attend class. Students, faculty and staff who exhibit any of the symptoms described below should not attend class and observe government guidance regarding self-quarantine, along with notifying the Dean of Students.
  • Students, faculty and staff returning from South Korea must self-quarantine for 14 days per CDC guidance.
  • If after reviewing health-related guidelines, any instructor who needs to consult about accommodations should email the Provost’s office for further guidance at [email protected].

In addition to these travel restrictions and previously announced actions, the University is implementing the following measures:

  • Study abroad programs in China, Italy and South Korea, scheduled to begin later this semester through the end of summer, have been suspended, effective immediately.
  • The University is communicating directly with students who are currently out of the country on study abroad programs to ensure their safe return to the U.S. and to minimize disruption to their academic studies.
  • The Study Abroad office continues to work directly with students enrolled in global academic programs. Study abroad students who have questions should email [email protected] edu.

Coronavirus symptoms

As a reminder, relevant signs of the virus include a cough, fever greater than 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should stay away from campus and contact their medical provider or the IHA Health Center @ EMU at 734.896.4110 to speak to medical personnel who can assess and guide next steps. In addition, they should notify the Dean of Students at [email protected].

General advisories for student, faculty and staff travelers

  • Anyone planning international travel should check the status of COVID-19 alerts and precautions at all destinations, including layovers, and continue to do so until their return to the U.S.
  • Monitor travel advisories daily, including potential restrictions on border crossings; countries you visit may decide to implement travel restrictions with very little notice, impacting your ability to return to campus.
  • Airlines may cancel/limit flights in or out of a country or region.
  • Additional quarantine measures may be applied by the U.S. and other countries.
  • Re-entry to the U.S. could be restricted – some areas are posting a 14-day self-isolation requirement.

Safeguards regarding the spread of Coronavirus

Person-to-person spread of the Coronavirus in the United States has been detected. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Practice these good prevention strategies: 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have soap and water.
  • Cover coughs with your elbow and sleeve.
  • Stay away from others if you or they are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

The Washtenaw County Health Department has prepared background information and frequently asked questions [PDF] to better inform the public about Coronavirus. In addition, the health information office at UC Davis produced a helpful video about Coronavirus.

A reminder: anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their health provider or the IHA Health Center @ EMU at 734.896.4110 to speak to medical personnel who can assess and guide your next steps.

University encourages use of sanitizers, disinfectant wipes

Effective immediately, the University has approved the use of p-cards for the purchase of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to use in classrooms, offices and other public spaces, and encourages all employees to use them daily to wipe down frequently touched surfaces such as door and drawer handles. 

We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and provide further updates as warranted.

Jim Smith

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