Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 5
Simmons University is closely following the latest news and updates related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). We have created this web page to keep our community informed of the University’s efforts related to this disease and to provide additional resources and guidance.
In this update, read about:
- A New Travel Registry
- Travel Guidelines
- Info for Study Abroad
- Enhanced Cleaning
- New Web Page Coming
Simmons University is closely following the latest news and updates related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
To date, no members of our Simmons community have been diagnosed with the virus, and the risk of contracting the virus for Massachusetts residents remains low.
The University has comprehensive emergency preparedness procedures, and is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our community. Simmons’ Emergency Management Council, Student Health Services, and senior administrators are all monitoring the situation and continue to coordinate closely with federal, state, and local health departments.
As we prepare for Spring Break next week, there are several updates to share. If you have questions or want to raise a concern, please use this new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get back to you.
New Travel Registry
Please tell us where you are
Communication remains a top priority in our preparedness strategy and we would like to be sure we can provide resources and assistance for members of our community who may encounter a virus-related situation. For these reasons, for the foreseeable future, we're asking all campus-based students, faculty and staff who travel outside of Massachusetts to use the following links to provide us with your name, email address, phone number, travel destinations and date. Note: Even if you are traveling for a short period of time -- a ski weekend to New Hampshire for example -- out of an abundance of caution, we ask you to use the new travel registry until further notice.
Guidelines for Travel
Effective immediately, Simmons will restrict university-sponsored travel to countries that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control as level 2 or higher. As of today, those countries are: China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, and Japan. In addition, given the rapidly changing spread of the virus, Simmons is recommending that all prospective, non-essential, university-sponsored travel receive serious reconsideration. This recommendation may be upgraded in urgency as the situation requires.
Accordingly, all University-sponsored student international travel over Spring Break has been cancelled, and we will continue to evaluate other programs planned for later in the year.
In light of the fact that the risk of COVID-19 infection within the US is low, university-sponsored domestic travel that is already planned and booked may proceed. Students traveling domestically over Spring Break will travel as planned, although if any student, staff or faculty member is uncomfortable traveling, no one will be required to travel.
We want to stress that if you have booked university-sponsored travel (to a conference, a research destination, or for another purpose), or if you have paid a meeting registration fee in advance of booking travel, you will not be penalized for cancelling those arrangements if you are uncomfortable about traveling. It is always best to request a refund, especially for hotel accommodations or other easily refundable items, but we recognize that we may suffer some financial losses. We are already beginning to see cancellations of large academic conferences and other gatherings.
If you are planning any personal travel outside of the U.S., we strongly encourage you to take the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations under advisement.
For Students Currently Studying Abroad
Study abroad programs are being closely monitored. If any country where we have students is elevated on the CDC list, Simmons will work with our academic partners to take appropriate action. Our advice now is for students to continue with their programs unless otherwise notified. If the situation changes we will reach out to affected students directly via email.
If a student chooses to leave a study abroad program because they do not feel comfortable remaining abroad, we would support them in the return home process.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Center for Global Education.
Returning from travel
Please be advised that that any member of our community who returns to the U.S. from a region considered by the CDC to be a Level 3 high risk for “widespread sustained” (China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy) will be subject to a 14-day self-imposed quarantine away from the Simmons University campus. Also be advised, as this outbreak continues to spread, there may be more countries added to the CDC list during your time overseas, so please stay alert.
Students who need to quarantine away from Simmons should work with Student and Academic Affairs to make appropriate arrangements.
Faculty who need to quarantine should work with their Deans to make arrangements for your teaching obligations.
Employees who need to quarantine away from Simmons should plan to work from home and talk with their managers.
Cleaning and disinfection measures
Simmons remains open and we are taking a number of steps to ensure the health and well-being of our community. On-campus events will continue as planned, although we continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate future events as we need to.
Simmons has taken the following safety measures:
- We are increasing the frequency of disinfecting public bathrooms and common spaces on both the academic and residential campuses. The University’s custodial cleaning program uses an EPA-registered disinfectant to clean touchpoints, public and common area restrooms and kitchens. We have also purchased two Protexus/Victory Electrostatic Sprayers – one for each campus. These sprayers use an innovative technology to eliminate 99.99% of bacteria and are particularly effective on viruses such as the Coronavirus. The cleaning crews will utilize the sprayers as an extra layer of disinfection.
- Antimicrobial wipes will be placed in every residence hall lounge, in the lobby of the Holmes Sports Center and equipment rooms. Additional Purell dispensers have also been distributed to common areas on the residence campus. Germicidal wipes have been placed in the library common areas as well as additional Purell dispensers in each building on the academic campus.
- Students may utilize the antimicrobial wipes, as needed, to disinfect their personal spaces on campus.
Things You Can Do to Stay Safe
While the current risk in Massachusetts is very low, with only one confirmed case and one presumptive case of COVID-19 here, we continue to encourage all members of the community to recognize symptoms of illness, which can include a high fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. Practicing good hygiene, including thorough hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or more, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding sharing food, cups or utensils, remains critical to minimizing the spread of any illness.
New Web Page Coming
Watch for a new page on Simmons.edu that will be dedicated to campus preparedness later this week. We will email you when we post new information there about the University’s ongoing activities and decisions related to this infection. In the meantime, we appreciate your attention and support to keep our campus safe.