Coronavirus Awareness & Prevention Efforts - March 3

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Last Thursday, we provided general information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) – where to find more information about it, precautions you can take to safeguard your health, and what the University is doing to monitor this rapidly changing situation.

While the threat to those in in the United States and in our area remains low, we have taken several measures out of an abundance of caution that we want to share with you.

  • Because there is growing concern regarding the possibility of international travelers visiting countries where more people have the virus or have been exposed, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the spring break Honors Program trip to London and Paris. We understand this has caused some disappointment, but we believe it is better for the students and faculty who were planning to go to not open themselves to the potential risk.
  • The Executive MBA trip to Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand scheduled for later this week has also been canceled out of concern for canceled flights, potential quarantine requirements and exposure to the virus.
  • We have two students participating in study abroad programs in Italy this semester.  Because of the rapid spread of the virus in that country, their programs asked them to return to the U.S. and to self-quarantine for two weeks. They will also be subject to any screenings and monitoring required by federal and local authorities that are in place when they return. We have asked that they not visit campus until the two-week monitoring period is complete.
  • A faculty member who has a family member returning from  a country where the virus is spreading rapidly has voluntarily agreed to avoid all contact with the family member upon her return - and has made arrangements to live in a different space in order to maintain his instructional role.
  • We have proactively contacted the Kansas City Health Department to establish contact information should we have questions or concerns and to seek advice regarding the precautions we have taken to date. We were advised that our plan of action is sound.
  • We have encouraged faculty to create plans for continuing classes and coursework in the unlikely event that the situation in our area requires us to limit contact on campus.  Likewise staff members, in collaboration with their department leaders, are being asked to create plans for continuity of services and programs should the need arise.
  • For the foreseeable future, employees and students are not allowed to engage in University-sponsored international travel that will take them to a country with a CDC level of 2 or higher, where there is immediate/close proximity to that country, or where there is significant and growing level of confirmed coronavirus cases.  Also, with respect to domestic locations, employees and students are not allowed to engage in University-sponsored travel to a city/county/state where there has been a declaration of a public health emergency or state of emergency.  At present, the University’s domestic (Los Angeles, Denver, and Louisville) and international (Guatemala and Dominican Republic) service immersion trips are scheduled to depart this Saturday.  The University will continue to monitor the information related to these countries and cities - and will make changes as deemed necessary.  We would recommend that people follow similar guidelines in their own personal travel decisions.

It is important to remember that, while the risk remains low in our area and there is no need to become unnecessarily alarmed, we should all keep up to date about the progress of the virus and other communicable illnesses (influenza), so that we can work to keep ourselves and our campus healthy. Our top priority is maintaining a safe environment for our campus community and we will continue to monitor this situation and adapt our plans and communications as needed.

Please continue to observe standard good hygiene practices such as:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cough into your elbow rather than your hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Refrain from shaking hands when greeting people.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact either of us and we will direct you to the appropriate resources.  Otherwise, know of our best wishes for success with your mid-term exams and papers – and a safe and relaxing spring break!