Coronavirus Communication 3/11/2020
Dear Washington College Community,
Washington College is making some important operational decisions about how to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe as the coronavirus outbreak evolves. Even though there are no known cases of coronavirus on campus or on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, campus communities are particularly susceptible to the spread of this novel virus because of frequent travel among this population and because our students live in close quarters. We are aware that colleges and universities across the nation are taking a range of actions in response to the spread of the coronavirus. At Washington College, out of utmost concern for the safety and health of our students, we have chosen to extend Spring Break (March 7-15) by one week, postponing the resumption of classes until March 23.
Campus offices will remain open and operational as we continue to monitor the situation, and we will share that information with you through routine communications as events merit. The coronavirus update story on the College’s home page will offer the most current information, as the Emergency Operations Group (EOG) and senior leadership will convene daily over the next two weeks.
Here is where we stand at the moment.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are preparing to conduct all coursework online in lieu of face-to-face instruction. We have every intention to complete the academic semester on the same schedule as originally planned. In the coming days, faculty will communicate to students how their courses will proceed.
Varsity Athletics and Campus Events
Athletic teams will continue to compete until the Centennial Conference and other intercollegiate governing bodies decide otherwise. We will decide whether college events should be cancelled, postponed, or offered virtually on a case-by-case basis. Please check the College’s calendar for the most updated information.
Study Abroad/International Students
Programs in China and South Korea have been cancelled and three of four students have returned to the U.S. from Italy. The fourth student has remained in Europe and is taking classes online via our partner school in Italy. Fifteen students are completing programs in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, France, Turkey, Morocco, South Africa, and Peru. Washington College is also hosting 48 matriculated students and 11 exchange students from abroad. Those students, as well as domestic students who have nowhere else to go, will be provided meals and housing.
Returning from Travel
As is often the case over Spring Break, our students and faculty have traveled widely. Those who have traveled to locations with significant coronavirus outbreak will be required to self-isolate, either off-campus or in a designated facility on campus. Domestic students who have remained on campus over the past few days will be asked to return home until normal face-to-face instruction resumes. Of those students remaining, any who have an immune-compromising health condition should consult immediately with the College’s Health Services. This office is also instituting what is called a “telephone triage tree,” whereby students are asked to call in before making the trip in person to see a healthcare professional. The number to call is 410-778-7261.
Regardless of whether you have traveled to a location designated by the Centers for Disease Control as a Level 2 or Level 3 risk, we ask that everyone practice stringent hand-washing hygiene, clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, distance yourself from others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, and stay home if you are sick or if you believe you may have been in contact with someone who is sick.
Given the rapidly evolving nature of this public health threat, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Monday, freeing up the resources to protect Maryland citizens and help prevent the spread of the virus, while waiving all cost-sharing regarding COVID-19 testing. As of Wednesday morning, nine Marylanders have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Please know that here at Washington College, we are doing everything we can to keep that number from growing.
As a final note, we are urging our community to be mindful of our international students and scholars who may be understandably concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their families back home. Similarly, we will ensure our international population is not unfairly maligned or on the receiving end of abuse, given the geographic source of the coronavirus.