COVID-19 Campus Update: March 6, 2020

To: The W&L Community
From: Sidney Evans, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world and reported cases grow in the United States, officials at W&L are making decisions regarding international programs and travel, and working to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak on campus and in the surrounding community. We will provide weekly email updates every Monday beginning on March 9, 2020, until the risk to our community has abated.

Updates and answers to frequently asked questions are also available on the university's Coronavirus Response website: http://go.wlu.edu/coronavirus.

The university has convened an Emergency Operations Group, composed of representatives from university facilities, student health, public safety, communications, academic affairs, information technology services, dining services and student affairs. That group is meeting regularly to review and update plans for the university's response as news of the virus changes. Its decisions are guided by our commitment to guarding the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We consult and follow the guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), national experts on public health and infectious disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and from the U.S. Department of State.

Campus Outlook

  • There are currently no reports of cases involving coronavirus disease COVID-19 on the Washington and Lee campus, and there are no confirmed cases in Virginia.
  • There were no W&L-led Washington break trips to areas to which the CDC has applied a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (China, Iran, Italy, Korea).
  • We are aware of three faculty and two students who recently returned from Italy, but were not in the regions where the concentrated outbreaks have occurred. In accordance with the newly revised VDH recommendations, those individuals have been asked to stay home from work or school for 14 days after leaving Italy, and the university is providing necessary accommodations.
  • As is typical following the return from breaks, other cold and flu-like illness is circulating on campus. It is important for the campus community to remain calm and take practical steps to stay healthy. Simple, common-sense prevention and containment measures are outlined on W&L's Coronavirus Response website.

What Should I Do If I'm Sick?

  • Students who are unable to attend class due to personal illness should contact their instructor via email or telephone to discuss appropriate adjustments. They may also request sick meals through Dining Services and contact their class dean via email for guidance and assistance.
  • Instructors are encouraged to make appropriate adjustments based on their courses. Faculty who have questions about how to make appropriate technical adjustments or accommodations may contact Academic Technologies.

Safety and Prevention:

  • The university is doing all it can to maintain a safe environment for our community without disrupting normal operations. Additional cleaning cycles have been added to highly trafficked public restrooms and common spaces across campus. Dining Services will provide sick meals to students who are unable to eat in campus dining facilities.
  • The CDC does not recommend the use of masks by people who are not sick. Masks are recommended only for use by sick people and health care providers.

What Will Happen if a Case is Identified on Campus?

  • Should a case of COVID-19 be positively identified on campus, appropriate communications with the community will occur in accordance with guidelines from VDH. The Student Health Center has made plans for isolating sick students if needed. Protocols are in place for cleaning on-campus residences of affected students and workspaces of affected faculty and staff. Administrators will work with faculty to make accommodations for extended student absences.

Impact on Programs

Winter Term Classes:

  • Winter Term classes are being held as usual.

Campus Events:

  • The CDC's guidance right now is that the risk of COVID-19 to the general population remains low. The university has not canceled any campus-wide events at this time. Individuals who show no symptoms can still attend and participate. Any updates regarding the university's response to COVID-19 will be shared on our Coronavirus Response website and via email.

Spring Term Abroad:

  • At this point, all of Washington and Lee's Spring Term Abroad programs are still on schedule as originally planned. None of the programs are operating in nations deemed high risk (Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4) by the U.S. Department of State.
  • We are proactively considering contingencies for each of these programs, as we recognize that plans may need to change on short notice to protect the well-being of all involved.
  • The university will continue to monitor the development of this situation and will apprise the community of any changes regarding our programs via email.

Travel To and From Affected Areas

Returning Travelers:

  • Public health guidance by local, state and national authorities related to returning travelers will be based on CDC Travel Health Notices.
  • If you have traveled to an area under a Level 3 CDC Travel Health Notice, in accordance with CDC recommendations, W&L will ask that you stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time you left the area. Additionally, the VDH recommends that those returning to the U.S. from CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice countries practice social distancing for 14 days, and to self-monitor for symptoms of illness. Please reach out to the following individuals, and the University will work with you on living arrangements, class obligations and leave issues:
    • Faculty and staff should contact Mary Main, executive director of human resources.
    • Undergraduate students should contact Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
    • Law students should contact Trenya Mason, assistant dean for law student affairs.

Upcoming Travel:

  • University-affiliated travel decisions are based on U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories. The university prohibits university-sponsored travel to any country with a Level 4 Travel Advisory from the U.S. State Department. Travel to countries with a Level 3 Travel Advisory is strongly discouraged.
  • Remember that even a country not currently experiencing an outbreak could suddenly be declared a high-risk area, posing risks of exposure, difficulty with travel, or immigration barriers upon return to the U.S. Careful pre-planning is essential for all travelers:
    • Visit the Student Health Center or your primary care physician in advance for current travel health and vaccination recommendations.
    • All international travelers must register University-related travel through the Center for International Education's travel registry system in order to be enrolled in our global health and emergency assistance insurance.
    • As part of registration, be sure you download and activate the Alert Traveler app. This will provide up to date information on coronavirus outbreaks and any other risks.
    • Enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ("STEP"), to receive current U.S. embassy alerts and messages for your destinations.

We appreciate your efforts to take health and safety seriously, for your own sake and that of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at sevans@wlu.edu.