COVID-19 Weekly Update: March 9, 2020

To: The W&L Community
From: Sidney Evans, Marc Conner and Mary Main

As mentioned in our communication to the W&L community on Friday evening, we will be providing weekly updates on W&L's response to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and preparations for the possibility of an outbreak on campus and in the surrounding community.

These communications will be sent via email every Monday, with more time-sensitive updates as needed, until the risk to our community has abated.

We continue to consult and follow the guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, national experts on public health and infectious disease at the CDC and from the U.S. State Department.

Keeping our community safe is our top priority, and will require individual effort on behalf of all of our members. We encourage you to read these email updates, to familiarize yourself with the resources and frequently asked questions that are available on the university's Coronavirus Response website, and to practice good preventative health measures.

What's Changed?

Since our community update on Friday, we can report the following updates:

  • While there are still no reports of cases involving coronavirus disease COVID-19 on the Washington and Lee campus or local community, there are two confirmed cases in Northern Virginia.
  • Five W&L faculty and two undergraduates and one law student who recently returned from Italy have been asked to stay home from work or school for 14 days after leaving Italy. These individuals are not currently exhibiting any symptoms of illness and did not travel to the regions where the concentrated outbreaks have occurred. This precaution is being taken in accordance with the newly revised VDH recommendations. The university is providing them necessary accommodations.
  • The university is now prohibiting university-sponsored travel, including conferences and faculty or student travel funded by W&L grants, to any country with a U.S. State Department Level 4 Travel Advisory or a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice. Travel to any country with a U.S. State Department Level 3 Travel Advisory continues to be strongly discouraged.

Impact on Programs

While taking these precautions, we continue to conduct business as usual to the extent that it is possible:

  • Winter Term classes are being held as usual.
  • The university has not canceled any campus-wide events at this time. Individuals who show no symptoms can still attend and participate.
  • We are not currently restricting visitors to campus, unless they are from areas where a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice is in effect. This currently includes recent visitors to Italy, China, South Korea and Iran. However, institutions around the U.S. are adopting varying approaches based on their local situations. It is prudent to plan for contingencies, including moving programs and speakers online. If your visitor is currently sick, we strongly encourage you to postpone the event to a later time.
  • 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 (U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 or CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice). 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.

Impact on Travel

  • We are not currently restricting any domestic travel, but the number of cases in the U.S. is on the rise. We encourage members of the community to carefully consider any upcoming travel plans, and to prepare to be asked to stay home from work or school or practice social distancing upon your return to Lexington if your destination becomes subject to a CDC Level 3 or 2 Travel Health Notice, or current guidance from the Virginia Department of Health changes.
  • All travelers must register University-related international travel through the Center for International Education travel registry system. This will allow the university to track the potential risk to travelers and to our community as guidance changes, and travelers to enroll in our global health and emergency assistance insurance.
  • 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 from school/work and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time you left the area. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Health 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.
  • W&L currently has 73 students enrolled in study abroad programs managed by other institutions around the world. Six students have returned to the U.S. from Italy after that country was issued a U.S. State Department Level 3 Travel Advisory. Those students have since returned to their homes and will finish their semesters in the United States as directed by their program provider. We continue to consult with our international partner programs about students studying abroad this semester and those who plan to study abroad in the summer or fall. We will make any adjustments necessary as circumstances change. This is an evolving global situation, and as the circumstances change, so will our guidelines and actions.

Safety Precautions You Can Take

  • 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.
  • Employees and students may supplement these precautions by regularly cleaning and disinfecting their own workspaces and common areas 1-2 times per day. Common household cleaners like disinfecting wipes are suitable for this purpose.
  • Flyers with tips on safety and prevention are being posted around campus and are available online for download.

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 us:

Sidney Evans, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students (sevans@wlu.edu)
Marc Conner, Provost (connerm@wlu.edu)
Mary Main, Executive Director of Human Resources (mmain@wlu.edu)