Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
Seattle University continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, as more cases are confirmed in the United States and other countries. While the consensus among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Public Health – Seattle & King County (PH-SKC) is that the general risk of exposure to COVID-19 is currently low in the United States, Seattle University is actively planning for a range of scenarios and potential short- and longer-term impacts, with particular focus on the health and well-being of the university community, as well as on the continuity of university operations. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, the Student Health Center (SHC) and the Office of the Dean of Students, along with many campus partners, are continuing to closely monitor the situation and would like to share an update on the most recent information available.
As of today there have been 15 confirmed cases in the United States; 12 of these cases were travel-related and three were person-to-person spread. There are an additional 47 cases of people repatriated to the United States. Washington State has had one confirmed case in Snohomish County; 26 people have tested negative and four are currently awaiting results. The guidance from the CDC regarding travelers returning from China is unchanged. All people traveling from China and arriving in the U.S. after 2 p.m. PST on Feb. 2, 2020, are directed to stay at home away from others and monitor their health for a 14-day period.
On-Campus Emergency Management
The Seattle University Infectious Disease Task Force and Emergency Operations Committee have been meeting and making plans for responding in the event of the spread of coronavirus into our community or a pandemic outbreak. We have yet to meet the threshold for activation of our full plan, but continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidance provided by the aforementioned entities. Despite the rapidly changing nature of this situation, we are prepared to respond as necessary, including the activation of the university’s business continuity plan, which accounts for matters of employment and instruction of our students. Going forward, the university will send out weekly updates and invite you to visit our newly launched website at www.seattleu.edu/coronavirus for the most relevant information.
Travel Advisory Update
The CDC currently has travel alerts in place for China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy and Hong Kong. Additional locations where there is identified community spread of the virus include Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. As spring break approaches, you are advised to stay apprised of travel guidance from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Keep in mind that government-issued travel and screening mandates and airline operations could change while you are away, impacting your return plans. Additionally, we are continuing to work with many in our community, particularly our students from impacted countries, who have been deeply affected by the spread of the coronavirus. With the approach of spring break, we appreciate and recognize that many of our students will be unable to travel home as they had previously planned and may experience complications for their return home this summer. We are working with our partners across the campus to help accommodate the evolving needs of the most impacted members of our campus community.
Seattle University’s Education Abroad Office is also closely monitoring CDC, WHO and DOS advisories regarding the COVID-19 outbreak as well as communication from our international program partners, which provide updates about on-the-ground realities in impacted locations. In accordance with the Policy on Seattle University-Related Travel to High Risk International Locations, all faculty, staff and student university-related travel to China and South Korea is restricted until further notice. Currently, travel to Italy and Japan is not restricted, although this is subject to change at any time. Students who are currently abroad in Japan and Italy have been contacted and provided updated information on remaining healthy. In addition, SU students abroad have been advised to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through DOS.
Inclusion and Respect
Seattle University is an inclusive community with Redhawks living, working and studying all across the world and we deeply value the diversity of our community. We are committed to fostering a community that not only values diversity, but also models the principles of inclusive excellence throughout the university. To that end, it is critical that we equip ourselves with facts and each take on the responsibility of dismantling the myths and stigmas that have resulted in rampant ignorance and discrimination. And while we’ve not received any reports of harassment or discrimination on campus related to COVID-19, it is essential that we continue to share accurate information during this time of heightened concern. We must stay committed to our Jesuit values of inclusion, respect and care for the whole person. Important facts to know:
- COVID-19 does not recognize race, nationality or ethnicity.
- Wearing a mask does not mean a person is ill.
- You can interrupt stigma by sharing accurate information.
- Speak up if you hear, see or read misinformation or witness or experience harassment or discrimination.
For Your Consideration
As a reminder, we continue to encourage our community to take precautions and exercise good health practices. Given that COVID-19 has not been spreading widely in the United States, there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public. Steps you can take to prevent spread of the flu and common cold will also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others. Seattle University policy supports your decision to stay home when ill as our number one priority is to avoid the spread of germs and disease.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
We will continue to provide updates to our campus community about information, protocols and recommendations from the CDC, WHO and PH-SKC. As a reminder, please visit www.seattleu.edu/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.
Tara Hicks, ARNP
Director of Student Health Center
Office: 206-296-6300 I Fax: 206-296-6089
Alvin A. Sturdivant, EdD
Vice President for Student Development
Office: 206-296-6066 I Fax: 206-296-6063