Latest updates regarding coronavirus planning and precautionary measures
Posted on: Friday, March 6, 2020 at 3:46 PM
Dear Members of the Campus Community:
We write with an update on our campus planning to develop precautionary measures to protect our campus community from the COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Please be aware we currently know of no campus community members who are at risk or infected with coronavirus. As of today, there are 33 confirmed cases in New York State. At this time, all on-campus classes, events, searches and day-to-day operations will go on as planned.
As we continue to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country and internationally, we are taking many steps to put New Paltz in the best possible position in the event of an active outbreak in our region, including:
- The College has published a Frequently Asked Questions website, which we will continue to update as the situation evolves.
- We have begun focused cleaning by custodial staff of high-contact areas, including doorknobs, handrails, tabletops and computer lab keyboards and mice.
- The Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) will be offering training to college faculty and staff in Psychological First Aid (PFA). This is a universal early intervention that can be learned and delivered by anyone (no mental health background required), and used to support anyone experiencing stress or anxiety. For example, IDMH will be offering this training to the Administrative Council at its meeting on Monday, March 23. Stay tuned for more details and training options.
- Contingency plans are being developed and will be announced soon in the event that faculty need to deliver instruction remotely.
- Admission staff are working on contingency plans for Accepted Students Days on March 28 and April 4 and will share these as they develop.
- All New Paltz students traveling abroad or who have recently returned home have access to a 24-7 virtual mental health counseling service. Students can register to make appointments with a mental health counselor and receive services remotely.
- The Disability Resource Center (845-257-3020) is available to address any specific concerns related to students who may have underlying health issues.
Clarification about Class Cancelation Policies and Campus Closure Determinations
Please note that the College President only has the authority to delay or cancel classes and campus events, but does not have the authority to close the campus. The authority to close the campus rests with the Governor. College leadership is consulting closely with SUNY Administration, the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the Governor’s Office, and will defer to their healthcare expertise, guidance and directives on such decisions.
New Paltz Students Currently Studying Abroad
As we reported earlier this week, all study abroad programs in Italy, Japan, and South Korea have been cancelled due to health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak. This means that SUNY is instructing all program participants in the impacted countries to return to New York immediately. The State of New York and SUNY have determined that the safest and most efficient manner to get students home as soon as possible is to charter flights back to New York at no cost to the affected students. SUNY will provide quarantine locations at other designated campuses for a 14-day period. Self-quarantine, under strict DOH guidelines and monitored by local health departments will also be allowed. Final arrangements for these flights and for quarantine procedures will be communicated to individual students, as soon as possible.
Coronavirus is thought to be transmitted primarily in two ways:
- Through person-to-person contact when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes;
- From contact with infected surfaces or objects by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, using your elbow if a tissue is unavailable.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. (The campus has initiated heightened cleaning protocols focused on frequently touched surfaces in public spaces; office staff may use their P Cards to purchase CDC-approved disinfectant wipes or alcohol-based hand-sanitizer).
- Social distancing (efforts to limit where and when people come together).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
If You are Experiencing Symptoms Consistent with Coronavirus
We ask students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus, including fever over 100 degrees, cough and shortness of breath, to call rather than visit the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff should contact their primary doctor. The Student Health Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 3:30 p.m. If you are a student and experiencing symptoms, please call the Student Health Center to review your symptoms and make health care decisions. The Student Health Center does not have the ability to test for coronavirus. Students who meet the criteria for testing will be sent to local hospitals. Student Affairs will coordinate housing and food arrangements. Employees experiencing symptoms as outlined above should consult with a primary care physician. If a medical provider confirms that you tested positive for coronavirus, please call the Benefits Office 845-257-3169 or 845-257-3165 and your supervisor to advise them of your status. Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion will work with you and your supervisor to identify the appropriate employment steps in your case.
We will continue to provide additional information to the campus community as it becomes available. Please check the college home page regularly for updates.
Donald P. Christian, President
Scott Schulte, Director, Emergency Management
Richard J. Ordway Jr., M.D., Director, Student Health Service
Message originally distributed via: Campus Update