The message below was emailed to the Bryn Mawr College community from President Kim Cassidy on March 2, 2020.
Dear Bryn Mawr College Students, Faculty, and Staff:
I write today to provide an update about the College’s work to support our community’s health as we monitor the course of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The College continues to follow expert national and international recommendations regarding COVID-19, specifically from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization. I share this update with the understanding that these guidelines continue to evolve. It is important that we communicate and prepare even as new guidelines emerge. Community members may find real time updates from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Current expert analysis indicates that the immediate risk of contracting COVID-19 in the Philadelphia area is low. In addition, it is important to remember that current reports indicate that the vast majority of cases of COVID-19 are mild or moderate.
Following best practices, however, the College is preparing for a potential increased risk on campus. The Health Center has increased its store of care supplies; Facilities already uses appropriate cleaning supplies. Plans are underway to provide students with meals at no cost over spring break; details will follow. As in any year, we encourage community members to follow recommendations (available online at the CDC website) for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. They have indicated that the most important of these is frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
The College is also preparing for potential increased risk to students in other countries. Bryn Mawr has robust international programming and travel plays a large role in our curriculum. We are mindful that this commitment always presents risks and that we must balance our commitment to cultural and experiential learning alongside our commitment to the safety and health of our community.
Based on the spread of the virus, recommendations from the CDC, and in anticipation of possible future quarantines, the College has made the following decisions:
- The College has canceled College-supported, long-term, distant, student travel at this time.
- Faculty members are working now, with support from the Provost’s Office, to develop alternative, local, experiential learning opportunities that can meet each course’s educational goals. Spring season coaches are developing similar spring break alternatives.
- Students currently studying abroad are encouraged to follow their host program’s instructions and to update their deans about their plans.
- Students whose study-abroad coursework has been moved online this semester, due to host institutions’ restrictions on in-person classes, will be given full credit for their work.
While the College has canceled the above student travel at this time, Bryn Mawr cannot restrict individual community members’ personal travel choices. This means that:
- All community members who choose to travel are advised to take regular safety precautions and to follow CDC and state guidelines, updated regularly at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/. Community members should take into account the fact that return travel and return to the Bryn Mawr community could be disrupted or restricted due to travel bans or quarantines.
- As a reminder, the College does not sponsor or support travel to countries with a level 4 advisory from the Department of State.
- Community members are further advised to register their travel plans at https://www.brynmawr.edu/global/college-travel-registry so that the College may provide support as needed; however, this support may be limited by imposed restrictions by departments of health or government policies.
- Faculty and staff who are expected to travel on College business and who do not wish to travel during this uncertain time should consult their supervisors. No community member will be required to travel.
I ask us to be supportive of all members of our community who may be deeply worried about family and friends living in areas hard hit by COVID-19. We are aware of incidents of discrimination globally and in the region and stand firm in our unwavering belief that these behaviors have no place at Bryn Mawr College. Please use Bryn Mawr’s bias response process (https://www.brynmawr.edu/bias-response) to report any incidents of discrimination or bias. Now, as always, I ask you to join me in living our commitment to an inclusive community.
All undergraduate and graduate students who feel physically ill or who are concerned about their health are encouraged to call the Health Center. Other community members who have concerns are encouraged to call their primary care physicians. College announcements about COVID-19, as well as links to online resources, are posted on the Health Center website (https://www.brynmawr.edu/healthcenter/coronavirus-information-and-updates) for reference. Our Counseling Services staff are available for all students who are affected by the impact of the virus.
I will continue to update the community as we learn more about the course of COVID-19. I want to thank the faculty, staff, and students across campus who are working thoughtfully and diligently to discern and prepare for multiple scenarios, ensuring that we hold our mission to support students and our commitment to global education as guiding principles. I also want to thank all of the community members who have taken care to ensure that we support each other personally during this time.
With best wishes,