Coronavirus information and updates – March 9, 2020

Hilary L. Link – President
Ron Cole – Provost and Dean of the College
April Thompson – Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students
March 9, 2020 at 12:19pm

Dear Members of the Allegheny Community,

We are writing to provide an update on coronavirus (COVID-19) and share important information related to the College’s planning and actions regarding this evolving situation. The College has established a website to provide updates and information on available resources for faculty, staff, students, and families.

We want to emphasize first that there are no suspected or reported cases of COVID-19 in the Allegheny College community or in Crawford County. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are six presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania to date.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 website, for most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. This virus is not currently widespread in the U.S. However, we recognize that COVID-19 is continuing to spread in the U.S. and globally, and we understand that many in our community are concerned, particularly as travel during spring break approaches.

Our highest priority is the safety of the Allegheny community. The College has convened its incident response team and is planning for different scenarios in the event it becomes necessary to implement emergency operations. We are following established protocols and are working in coordination with local and state health officials as well as the Meadville Medical Center.

As a reminder, residence halls will remain open during spring break (March 14–22); however, dining and other on-campus services will be limited. McKinley’s will be open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and the Health Center will be open by appointment only 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Self-Care Clinic is available in the Health Center 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. without an appointment.

Please also keep these important reminders in mind as the semester continues and you prepare for spring break:

Travel Guidance

In the interest of the safety and well-being of our campus community, we are requiring all students, faculty, and staff to register any College-sponsored travel, both domestic and international, by providing us with your date(s) of travel and destination(s). Please complete this form to register your College-sponsored travel.

Because the global situation is rapidly changing, the College recommends caution when considering overseas travel, just as we do for travel within the U.S. If you choose to travel outside of the U.S., you should stay alert to all travel warnings, health notices, and advisories that are located on the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

Travel limitations, self-isolation requirements, and other restrictions have been implemented by different governments with little to no notice, and guidelines are changing quickly. Additional travel guidance for both domestic and international trips is available here.

If you choose to travel, whether in the U.S. or internationally, remember the essentials of illness prevention are critically important if you are in areas where large numbers of people are passing through, such as airline, train, and bus terminals. Avoid others who appear ill, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth.

Study Abroad Programs

The International Education Office continues to stay in close contact with Allegheny College students who are currently studying overseas for the spring semester. As Allegheny does not run its own study abroad programs, we collaborate closely with our partner institutions. We are following the lead of our partner institutions, who will provide opportunities for students to continue coursework remotely if necessary.

Students and faculty who are planning to participate in a May 2020 EL course have been contacted directly with guidelines, and the College will closely monitor and use the CDC criteria for decisions about travel to those destinations. For students planning to study abroad in the fall 2020 semester, we have included communication in their acceptance letters that mentions the coronavirus outbreak, that we will be monitoring conditions in relevant countries, and that we will be applying the CDC criteria to any of their programs.

What should I do if I’m not feeling well?

As per CDC guidelines for institutes of higher education, students, staff, and faculty should not attend class or work when sick. We ask that students work with faculty individually to see how you might best continue to participate in classes, as you are able. We have asked faculty to provide flexibility and options for individuals who may be temporarily unable to attend class due to restrictions placed on them related to possible exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Signs and symptoms of coronavirus and influenza are very similar. Students who are running a fever and have a mild-to-severe respiratory illness, with a cough, sore throat, and/or difficulty breathing, please call Winslow Health Center at (814) 332-4355 to set up an appointment to be seen by a physician or nurse practitioner as soon as possible. We are in close communication with the Meadville Medical Center, who is able to support us if any cases are identified. We encourage employees to consult with their healthcare providers as needed.

College Operations

On-campus events, classes, and activities are continuing as scheduled. Any changes in operations will be communicated to the campus community in appropriate ways depending on the nature of the update. These ways include email to your Allegheny email address, My Allegheny, and ALERTAllegheny (e2campus). We encourage you, if you have not already, to add your cell phone number to ALERTAllegheny to receive text messages in addition to those messages sent to your Allegheny email address.

Out of an abundance of caution, we also are preparing for the possibility of a temporary disruption in on-campus classes and other College operations should it be necessary. More information and guidance related to classes and instruction is available here, including guidelines for faculty to develop plans to continue course work via alternative methods. We also have worked to develop plans for continuity in core administrative functions and services.

Preventative Actions

St. Moritz Building Services personnel have increased their cleaning of high-touch surfaces in campus buildings using CDC-recommended disinfectants. The best protection from the spread of any virus, including the flu and COVID-19, is through everyday preventive actions, including the following:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Cough into your elbow if you do not have a tissue.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. This includes your cell phone and computer keyboards and mice.

We will continue to share information and updates with the campus community as they become available.

Hilary L. Link

Ron Cole
Provost and Dean of the College

April Thompson
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students