Coronavirus planning and precautionary measures
Posted on: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 8:45 AM
Dear Members of the Campus Community:
SUNY New Paltz campus leadership and our emergency management team are actively monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are planning precautionary measures to protect the campus community.
Please be aware we currently know of no campus community members who are at risk or infected with coronavirus. And there are two confirmed cases in New York State. At this time, all on-campus classes, events, searches and day-to-day operations will go on as planned.
We ask you to read this message in its entirety for important guidance regarding spring break travel that impacts the entire campus community and precautionary steps you can take as an individual to protect our community.
Planning and Precautionary Measures
We are currently coordinating our planning with SUNY, New York State Department of Health and New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services guidance on best practices for safeguarding the campus community. The safety and well-being of our students and employees are our primary concerns. We know this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to adjust our planning and actions as developments warrant. Our efforts are informed by the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health, the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on such incidents regarding college and university campuses.
The College has convened a task force with appropriate expertise in international programs, academic affairs, emergency management, environmental health and safety, healthcare, information technology services, human resources, facilities, communication, conference services, university police, food service, residence life, the registrar and financial aid to plan and prepare for this rapidly evolving situation. Our emergency planning includes considerations of, but not exclusive to:
- Potential impacts on classes, continuity of college operations and schedules
- Guidance for students, faculty, staff and visitors
- The Student Health Center and its capacity to serve students and its coordination with local medical resources
- Residential students
- Campus cleaning efforts
- Food service planning and delivery adjustments
- Large gatherings
- Quarantine management
- Coordination with other local, state and federal agencies
Spring Break and Spring Travel by All Campus Constituents
We ask all campus community members to consider carefully any plans to travel during spring break, as such movement increases the risk for encountering those who may have come in contact with the virus.
Effective immediately, the College has cancelled all campus-sponsored and official campus international travel for faculty, staff and students to CDC Level 2 or higher level countries or areas (as of today, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Japan and China). We will be working closely with affected individuals to mitigate financial impacts. Anyone, employee or student, anticipating travel to CDC Level 2 or 3 countries (see above list) over spring break or during the spring 2020 semester, is strongly discouraged from doing so. As new countries or areas of the United States are added to CDC level 2 and 3 classifications, the same College-mandated travel restrictions will apply. Anyone who does travel to such areas will be required to notify their local health department, self-quarantine for 14 days and will not be permitted to come to campus for two weeks upon their return. The CDC is also discouraging cruise ship travel to or within Asia. Those traveling by ship elsewhere should be mindful that their itineraries may be impacted as well.
Quarantine means students will not be able to live in a residence hall or attend all seated classes during that two-week period. We ask faculty to work with students who are under self-quarantine to assist them in making up work they may have missed or continue to work with them through online means. We also ask faculty to relax class attendance policies to reinforce the importance that ill students not attend class to prevent infecting others.
Employees should alert their supervisor about any such personal travel plans as you will need to use sick leave while under the two-week period quarantine. Teaching faculty will need to make arrangements with chairs for substitute teaching or online teaching during those first two weeks after spring break or other spring travel. We are seeking guidance on whether working from an alternate work site (not on campus) could be permissible.
The College is mandating that any students or employees with travel plans out-of-state or internationally for official campus business register at the following link. Those with personal travel plans out-of-state or internationally are strongly encouraged to register as well. The task force will use these plans to allow us to support you upon your return and to coordinate communication. The task force will not be sharing this information broadly. While redundant, plans also should be reported to supervisors and shared with vice presidents.
Students and employees engaging in personal travel over spring break and this spring semester should note that CDC alert level designations are rapidly evolving. As such, your travel plans may be impacted and you may be subjected to public health-based restrictions upon return to the U.S. or New York. It is also possible that CDC restrictions regarding domestic travel could be mandated.
Coronavirus is thought to be transmitted primarily through two ways:
- Through person-to-person contact when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes;
- From contact with infected surfaces or objects by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash, using your elbow if a tissue is unavailable.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. (The campus has initiated heightened cleaning protocols focused on frequently touched surfaces in public spaces; office staff may use their P Cards to purchase CDC-approved disinfectant wipes or alcohol-based hand-sanitizer).
- Social distancing (efforts to limit where and when people come together).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
We ask students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus, including fever over 100 degrees, cough and shortness of breath, to call rather than visit the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff should contact their primary doctor. The Student Health Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 3:30 p.m. If you are a residential student and experiencing symptoms, please call the Student Health Center so that healthcare arrangements can be made for you. The Student Health Center does not have the ability to test for coronavirus. Students who are in need of testing will be sent to local hospitals. Student Affairs will coordinate housing and food arrangements.
Study Abroad Students and Their Eventual Return to Campus
The College is in contact with SUNY New Paltz students studying abroad in impacted countries, such as Italy, Japan and South Korea, and has confirmed they are safe. Governor Andrew Cuomo, SUNY, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services are calling back all SUNY students, faculty and staff, in CDC Level 2 and Level 3 countries. Those students will be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. The College is accommodating disruptions to their academic programs for those who are choosing to return home. We are reaching out to the handful of students who until now have elected not to return to provide them with information and support for when they return home. We will be working closely with affected individuals to mitigate financial impacts.
Most (not all) students are returning home immediately, and we have made it clear that they should contact their local health department and plan for a 14-day self-quarantine before returning to campus.
- For the Centers for Disease Control’s latest updates on coronavirus, visit the CDC website.
- New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts can answer questions regarding coronavirus.
We will continue to provide additional information to the campus community as it becomes available.
Donald P. Christian, President
Scott Schulte, Director, Emergency Management
Richard J. Ordway Jr., M.D., Director, Student Health Service
Message originally distributed via: Campus Update