Members of the campus community,
As you know from our previous updates and the wealth of information being shared publicly, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread at a rapid rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the situation closely and providing necessary information, advice and, where appropriate, warnings. I encourage you to visit the CDC site.
As a university with global impact and global travelers, I feel it is important that we take extraordinary precautions in this extraordinary time. As I have noted in the past, the safety of our campus community is our top priority. For this reason, I feel our precautions should extend beyond the advice of the CDC.
Effective immediately, I have directed that we suspend study abroad travel for this semester. The Office of International Programs has already communicated this directive to applicable faculty and students. While this means that some students and faculty must forgo opportunities for global learning for now, we will work to ensure that student finances and progress toward degrees are unaffected. We will continue to monitor the situation for future planning purposes.
Since the situation is changing daily and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, we highly encourage you to keep checking the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites regarding your potential travel plans, and even consider postponing personal international travel until the CDC lifts its travel warnings and feels COVID-19 is under control.
Whether you plan to travel or not, I encourage you to be especially diligent in practicing behaviors that help prevent the spread of disease, including washing your hands, covering your cough or sneeze, or staying at home if you are sick. Several of my colleagues at the National Institutes of Health have even discontinued the practice of shaking hands. While I understand the difficulty — and perhaps impracticality — of refraining from such a common greeting, I also have decided to forgo shaking hands as much as possible. While socially awkward, my training in epidemiology and public health makes me believe this is the right approach to reduce the risk of spreading infection. To that end, I ask your indulgence if I, or others, choose a different greeting.
We will continue to update you as necessary through messaging and at our coronavirus information webpage. In the meantime, the committee of experts we referenced in our communication on Feb. 12 will continue to monitor this situation and its implications for our campus, develop necessary recommendations, and report to me weekly.
Thank you for your cooperation.
M. Roy Wilson