The message below was emailed to the Bryn Mawr community from President Kim Cassidy on March 5, 2020.
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
As we approach Spring Break, I write with an update and reminders for all community members.
The College is continuing to plan for our community’s safety and wellness as we learn more about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). We are working to ensure a healthy and productive teaching, learning, and research environment for the remainder of the spring semester.
It is important to remember that, as of the writing of this letter, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and experts advise that the vast majority of cases are mild to moderate.
College-sponsored travel to countries with a current Level 4 State Department designation is never permitted. As of the writing of this letter, this category includes China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran, as well as others. Other countries could be added at any time. Please consult State Department guidelines at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/.
Currently, we have also canceled all other College-sponsored, long-distance, student travel. At this time, we are proceeding with College-sponsored local travel, but we do encourage recommended health practices for all travel.
Staff who travel on behalf of the College should continue to work with their supervisors to determine the best approach. Faculty should use their discretion for research-related travel. The Provost’s Office is happy to provide consultation for those who need assistance in making a decision.
Given the evolving situation, no decisions have been made about study abroad for Summer 2020 and the Academic Year of 2020-21. An email specific to graduate students’ work and concerns will be forthcoming.
The College cannot restrict personal travel. That said, given the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we ask community members to consider the following:
- All travel should be registered with the Bryn Mawr College travel registry: https://www.brynmawr.edu/global/college-travel-registry
- Anyone visiting a Level 4 State Department destination may be prevented from returning to the United States. Anyone visiting these locations will not be permitted to return to campus until they complete the CDC-recommended 14-day self-isolation and are symptom-free.
- Many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed around the U.S., and it is likely that the virus will spread to additional regions. We encourage all community members to approach any travel with abundant caution and weigh the benefits of travel against the risks to yourself and to the community. Given the changing nature of the situation, domestic travel could also result in the need to self-quarantine.
- We are offering meals to students who choose to stay on campus at no cost. Please see Dean Walters’ email for additional information.
- Students may check the Health Center website for details about possible open hours during Spring Break.
Return from Travel Over Break
Any student who develops COVID-19 symptoms while away over break should contact their dean before returning to campus. The Dean’s Office and the Health Center will work with the student to determine the appropriate next steps. Faculty and staff should call their health provider and be in touch with their supervisor.
We ask that all students, faculty, and staff stay home if they are sick.
Students with a documented disability that includes an elevated level of concern for virus exposure may contact the Access Services Office to discuss academic accommodations.
Given that the COVID-19 is a virus, the most important thing we can do is engage in healthy behaviors. Public health experts continue to advise that the best way to protect yourself is through good hygiene: wash hands frequently and thoroughly (for a minimum of 20 seconds), cover your face when you cough or sneeze (this is particularly important in classrooms and other public spaces), and avoid contact or proximity with anyone who’s already ill.
We are continuing to meet and plan in anticipation of possible future scenarios. We are prioritizing community safety as we also try to uphold the strongest commitment to our educational mission and academic programming. We hope that these scenarios never come to pass, but we want to be prepared. Going forward the situation may require us to move to alternative approaches to delivering the curriculum and providing services. We also will need to continue to assess our co-curricular and public programming. For now, all on-campus and athletic events are continuing as planned, but this too could change with little notice depending on how the situation unfolds.
We will keep the community updated. I am grateful to the many faculty and staff who are working hard to prepare the campus. I recognize that this time is stressful for everyone, and I encourage all community members to be generous with one another. I hope you have a safe and healthy break and look forward to the second half of the semester.
President, Bryn Mawr College