Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Feb. 28, 2020

To: the W&L Community
From: Sidney Evans, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Date: February 28, 2020
Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

As students and faculty return to campus following Washington Break, I write with a reminder about precautions to take regarding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Since January, officials at W&L have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and preparing for potential impacts on the university. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 was first identified in December during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in China, South Korea, and parts of Japan, Italy and Iran. Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam may also be affected.

Travelers to affected areas are being screened and monitored for illness on return to the U.S. At this time the virus is NOT thought to be spreading in communities in the U.S., although a single case has been identified without a known travel history or exposure contact. The risk to the general population in the U.S. is considered to be LOW at this time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that the virus is expected to impact the United States in a more severe way than it has to date. We will continue to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak on campus, and will keep students and parents apprised of any impact on our operations, including Spring Term and study abroad programs.

The global situation is changing daily. The university strongly recommends not traveling to locations with CDC or State Department Level 3 alerts or higher. If you recently traveled, or are planning to travel outside the U.S., we advise that you check for updates frequently from the CDC and the World Health Organization.

If you have recently traveled to an area of the world where the COVID-19 infection is spreading from person to person, or you have known contact with a person infected with COVID-19 during your travels, you can expect to be quarantined for up to 14 days after your return to watch for signs of infection. Please notify a university official and the Student Health Center BEFORE returning to campus if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 over the break week, so appropriate measures can be discussed to monitor for illness and reduce the risk of transmission in our community:

  • Faculty and staff should contact Mary Main, executive director of human resources.
  • Law students should contact Trenya Mason, assistant dean for law student affairs.
  • Undergraduate students should contact Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

There are simple everyday actions you can take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home.
  • If you are around other people wear a face mask and/or cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. This will help reduce spread of illness through airborne droplets.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We appreciate your efforts to take health and safety seriously, for your own sake and that of our community, as you return to campus. We will provide additional updates as necessary.