Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hello Students, Staff, and Faculty:

I am writing to provide an update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in context of our Springfield College community. While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can and should do their part to help the country respond to this emerging public health threat. We should focus on promoting awareness by keeping our Springfield College community informed through regular communications. We should not panic, but instead, we should: take reasonable precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus and reduce risk; optimize our individual health; and make reasonable preparations in the event of an outbreak. Please check current information from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to stay abreast of this ongoing and evolving situation. The CDC offers a situation summary right on the main landing page and enables you to search by country for travel restrictions or alerts/warnings. Please check this regularly.

In anticipation of more official, direct guidance on COVID-29 (Coronavirus) from Springfield College, I can offer some basic information and suggestions. The main thing that we can all do at this juncture is to practice the following basic precautions:

  1. Practice good hygiene. The most important hygiene step is washing one’s hands thoroughly with soap and water (for 20 seconds) frequently throughout the day and/or using hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol). Soap and water should always be used if hands are visibly dirty. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. We should make sure that soap dispensers and paper towels are in good supply in our facilities. We can also make hand sanitizer available. Try to avoid touching your eyes, ears, or mouth throughout the day.
  2. Avoid contact with sick people when possible.
  3. Use a tissue or cover your mouth with arm when coughing or sneezing. By using appropriate etiquette, we can minimize the dispersion of aerosolized particulates which helps to reduce the spread of viruses. Be sure to dispose of used tissues immediately in the trash to reduce the risk of contamination of the workspace.
  4. Wipe down public spaces, like tables, door knobs, keyboards, etc. with disinfectant when possible (e.g., in between classes, after lunch, etc.). Perhaps we could put out disinfecting wipes in classrooms and ask students to wipe down their desks after class like we wipe down equipment at the gym.
  5. Take care of your community.  Avoid public places if you are not feeling well, and if you have a fever, you should not come to work or attend class. We can always Zoom someone in if they need to stay home with a fever or flu-like symptoms. We don’t want anyone guzzling Alka-Seltzer Plus and muscling through a class or a workday and thereby putting others at risk. We all need to use good judgment and communicate with our instructors, classmates, or supervisors, and we should support one another through this situation.
  6. Take care of your own general health. Stay focused on healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as good nutrition, vitamins, exercise, sleep, and minimizing stress. Keep your immune system healthy and your outlook positive – this goes a long way in optimizing your body’s ability to handle infections.
  7. Consider postponing nonessential travel.  For people returning to the US, please check with your health care provider if you have concerns, and certainly do not come to campus if you have any symptoms such as a fever or other flu-like symptoms. On the main campus, we had a group of study tour students return this week. Because Italy is on an Alert-Level 2 status, the recommendation from the CDC is to “Practice Enhanced Precautions” as described above for asymptomatic people. Other countries, such as China, Japan, and South Korea are on Warning-Level 3, which states “Avoid Nonessential Travel.” The US is at Watch-Level 1, which recommends “Practice Usual Precautions.” It doesn’t hurt, of course, to step up our hygiene practices and to be more cautious than usual with enhanced and vigilant hygiene practice.
  8. Keep up to date with prescriptions or OTC medications and try to keep a 2-week supply at home as a standard precaution if possible.
  9. Communicate with your health care provider if you have any flu-like symptoms, underlying conditions that may put you at greater risk, or if you have any medical questions.

Let’s stay positive, communicate openly, support each other, and each do our part in promoting and practicing good hygiene and using good judgment with regard to staying at home when not feeling well and contacting our health care provider when needed. These efforts are the most appropriate at this stage and definitely go a long way in mitigating risk and optimizing the environmental health of our work community.

I will provide regular updates as we learn more.

Be well everyone!

John   

John A. Eisler PhD | Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs