I am writing with an update on the College’s efforts in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On two occasions—Tuesday, January 28, and Thursday, February 27—the College’s Dyson Wellness Center (DWC) wrote to you to share important health and travel information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other local health organizations. These messages were posted on the College’s website and shared via the College’s social media channels. Additionally, the College’s website now includes an “alert” message directing visitors to a new COVID-19 Update page that will be updated regularly.
Members of the campus community, students’ families and others are encouraged to visit the College’s COVID-19 Update page for the latest travel guidance, information about the College’s actions and recommendations related to the outbreak, links to additional resources, and contact information. Additionally, the page includes a link in the Quick Links section to the Travel Reporting Form shared in last week’s DWC message. Thank you to those who have already completed the form. If you are currently traveling internationally or plan to in the near future—or are in close contact with someone who is—and have yet to complete the form, we ask that you please do so.
The College has established an institutional response team to the COVID-19 outbreak that will monitor guidance from the CDC and local health agencies and will discuss and establish contingency plans as necessary. This team will meet regularly and is prepared to respond to the rapidly changing developments. In particular, this team will continue to evaluate all of the College’s international travel programs and consult the appropriate agencies prior to making any decisions or recommendations to members of the campus community involved in such programs.
This past weekend, the CDC issued a Level 3 travel warning to avoid nonessential travel for several countries including Italy, where four North Central College students are currently studying. Kimberly Larsson, the College’s executive director for the Center for Global Education, in consultation with others on the response team, wrote to these students strongly recommending that they return to their home countries as soon as possible. The students who opted to leave Italy have been asked to return to their permanent residences and self-quarantine for 14 days as a precautionary measure. In February, the College canceled its May Term course to China.
I wish these students—and all members of our campus community—well as they navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, including our international students and colleagues who have family and friends across the globe who may be affected. We offer them our continued support and I encourage all students to take advantage of resources available through the DWC, as well as the Students Affairs, Global Education and Residence Life teams.
The College’s DWC will soon be posting additional information across campus to promote proper handwashing procedures and other important reminders to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19. While it may seem simple, handwashing is an effective and proven way to significantly reduce the spread of viruses.
Thank you to the staffs in the Dyson Wellness Center, the Center for Global Education and the members of the team regularly managing the College’s response. Our efforts are focused on the health and wellbeing of the entire campus community, and we will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and other health agencies.