Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Bridgewater State University Response to Coronavirus

Bridgewater State University is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States and overseas and is working proactively to minimize any risk to the BSU community.

There have been no known cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty and staff on campus or among those studying or working abroad. The University remains in close contact with state and federal public health officials. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) evaluates the current risk to Massachusetts residents as low.

The university had previously suspended all travel to China. Over the past few days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 3 Warnings, recommending the avoidance of all non-essential travel for South Korea, Italy and Iran. The university has been in close contact with students in Italy and South Korea (and their families) and is in the process of assisting them in returning home. We are working with these students and their families to assess and remedy the various educational and financial implications of this situation.

Given the evolving nature of COVID-19, Bridgewater State University is doing everything it can to ensure the health and well-being of our community. With guidance from the CDC, the university is adopting the following measures:

Cancelling all study abroad trips and international travel courses planned for Spring Break (through March 17). We regret the need to make this decision but the health of our students and employees is paramount. We will work with students and families to address any financial or academic impact caused by this decision.

At this point, it would be premature to make decisions about study abroad or international travel courses planned for the summer. We will be in contact regarding summer international travel at a later date.

Through the Minnock Institute for Global Engagement, BSU is continuing to communicate and work with students already in countries that are at CDC Warning Level 2 or below to determine appropriate steps on a case-by-case basis.

Requiring that all BSU students or employees returning from a country designated by the CDC as Level 3 not return to any BSU campus for 14 days, even if you are symptom-free. Further, we are requesting that all such students and employees self-isolate for the 14 days before returning to campus (meaning that you remain at your residence, do not attend class, work or group gatherings and do not invite people to your residence).

Advising all members of the BSU community not to travel abroad at this time, including students who may have plans to travel internationally during Spring Break.

We are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution and will work with impacted students and faculty to remedy to the greatest extent possible any academic implications of these decisions.

The CDC continues to indicate that the risk to the U.S. public is low. It recommends that you use the same reasonable precautions you would employ to help prevent colds and the flu in order to maintain your health and prevent the spread of all respiratory conditions, including:

Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.

Avoiding close contact with people who are sick and staying home when you are sick, and
Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

To further assist and educate the public concerning the virus, the CDC has established a coronavirus website that includes a wealth of information including: information about the transmission, symptoms, prevention and treatment of the virus; frequently asked questions and answers; and guidance for travelers.

While the Massachusetts Department of Public Health continues to rate the coronavirus risk level as low, I want to assure you that Bridgewater State University has strong protocols – guided by DPH – in place to manage any contagious disease outbreak on campus in the unlikely event that it were to occur.

A BSU COVID-19 planning and response team has been established and is meeting regularly to evaluate the situation and plan accordingly. If you have health concerns or questions, we recommend you contact Dr. Christopher Frazer, Executive Director of the Wellness Center, at 508-531-1252 or wellnesscenter@bridgew.edu. If you have any academic questions concerning study abroad, we recommend you contact Dr. Wing-kai To, Assistant Provost for Global Engagement, or Michael Sandy, Study Abroad Director, at 508-531-6195 or studyabroad@bridgew.edu.

We recognize that some members of our community have friends and family members who are directly impacted by this health concern and subsequent travel restrictions. We want each member of our community to know that they are in our thoughts at this time and can count on our support.

The university will continue to monitor the situation daily and provide regular updates with clear guidance for our students, faculty and staff as events unfold.

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