DATE: March 12, 2020 at 11:00 am
TO: Students, Faculty, and Staff
FROM: Dr. Richard Nelson, President
COVID19 UPDATE #2
The number and geographic distribution of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) cases has grown substantially since my last message on Feb. 28. Numbers in China remain high, but more rapid growth is occurring in other areas including parts of Asia, Europe and the mid-East. Over 1300 cases are now confirmed cases in the US, up from 64 on Feb. 28. Many experts believe that number will rise quickly as more testing capacity becomes available in the U.S. In anticipation of further spread, state and national strategies are shifting from containment to mitigation.
Wisconsin reports six cases so far (5 active, 1 recovered), with none in the northern part of the state. However, given the patterns seen so far, we should prepare as if COVID-19 will be in our area, perhaps sooner than later. With that in mind, I want to share the following information with you today:
- Spring study abroad trips to England and Guatemala have been cancelled.
- All other college-sponsored international travel is suspended until further notice.
- New bookings of non-essential domestic air travel for staff are suspended until further notice. Exceptions for “essential travel” will be considered on a case-by-case basis as part of our regular process for approval of out-of-state travel.
- Those with previously booked air travel should reconsider plans and be prepared to cancel at any time.
- College-sponsored non-essential out-of-state travel by car is suspended until further notice with the exception of adjacent counties in Michigan. We recognize that other exceptions may be in order, especially to other adjacent states. Such decisions should be consultative (with supervisors, executive team members, and the office of risk management) and reflect a bias toward cancellation or postponement in the context of known risk factors: Is the destination a place where the virus has been identified? Will large gatherings of people, especially in close quarters, be encountered?
- College-sponsored in-state travel by car is not yet restricted, but should be re-evaluated. Decision-making should include consultation with supervisors, executive team members, and the office of risk management, and reflect a bias toward cancellation or postponement in the context of known risk factors: Is the destination a place where the virus has been identified? Will large gatherings of people, especially in close quarters, will be encountered?
- Student travel must not be a course requirement. Students must be free to elect non-participation in travel without consequence.
- As a responsible and caring community, we ask in the strongest possible terms that anyone returning from travel in a CDC Level III area (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/) self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon return. Please note that as of tomorrow, this includes twenty-nine European countries. Supervisors will work with HR to make return to work arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
- Our custodial services provider has enhanced nightly cleaning and disinfecting key surfaces on campus.
- Our Educational Services and Information Technology teams are working on contingency plans should we find it necessary to suspend delivery of F2F instruction. A universal solution doesn’t exist, but our goal is to provide maximum flexibility for students while maintaining quality and always keeping safety our #1 priority. Additional details will be coming next week.
- Our Remote Work Policy (AP 4.11) may be temporarily modified and extended to support employees who can do all or part of their work at home should it become necessary to avoid coming to campus.
- We are also looking ahead to larger college events for the spring and summer and will evaluate each on a case by case basis after full compliance with any restrictions that may be imposed by regulatory authorities.
- A one-page general information sheet from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Communicable Diseases, is attached for your reference. It can also be found online here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02592.pdf.
- A web page is being built where member of the Nicolet College community can find information and updates on this rapidly evolving situation.
Thank you staying informed and for seeking information from credible sources. I assure you that we wil (1) continue to monitor the situation throughout the day, (2) update our plans and actions in accordance with the best guidance available from infectious disease professionals and government agencies, and (3) share that information with you in a timely manner.
Richard Nelson, President