Travel affected by spread of COVID-19
As we continue to monitor the global spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we are learning more about the virus every day. While there are still no reported confirmed cases of coronavirus in Minnesota, news of the virus continues to break closer and closer to home. This has raised questions about Global Studies, spring break travel plans, and campus-wide best practices to contain the spread of this and other viruses that can develop rapidly. Here is an update on steps the University has initiated to prepare and respond to the impact of this virus.
Global Studies for Spring 2020
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance this week, stating that all colleges and universities should consider postponing or cancelling upcoming foreign travel programs. In light of this new guidance, and weighing the uncertainty of the evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made the very difficult decision to cancel all St. Catherine University Global Studies faculty-led courses during the Spring 2020 semester.
This was not a quick nor easy decision. We weighed many factors as we debated this decision, not the least of which includes all of the preparation and work you have already done, and the academic credit students expected to receive for the program. Ultimately, we cannot predict how events will unfold in the coming days, weeks, and months; we must prioritize the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
Spring Break Travel
If you plan any travel over spring break, now is the optimal time to assess any potential risks associated with your travel plans and consider any changes you may want to make. It is possible that travel restrictions will continue to expand and could affect your ability to return to campus. If you have plans to travel internationally over spring break or at any point during the semester, we recommend you monitor the CDC’s travel information.
Preventative Measures On Campus
The University is following all procedures from the Minnesota Department of Health, American College Health Association, and CDC regarding anyone who presents with any symptoms of influenza and/or coronavirus. We remain in frequent contact with local, state, federal, and international health agencies, and will continue to monitor the situation.
Even with the spread of coronavirus, it is still far more likely that college students, and Minnesotans, will contract seasonal flu than the coronavirus. If you have not done so already, we strongly encourage you to get the seasonal flu vaccine. Though not protective against the coronavirus, it may help protect you against the flu, which is circulating on campus and is known to cause possible severe respiratory illness. You can get a flu shot at your clinic, or the Health and Wellness Clinic. You can also check with your local pharmacy to see if they still offer flu shots. If you qualify for free or low-cost immunizations, you can find a clinic offering those services here.
Everyone can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Public health professionals recommend that you:
Wash your hands often with soap and water; if that is not possible, use hand sanitizer.
Cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
Avoid close contact (touching or shaking hands) with people who are sick.
Avoid touching our mouth, nose, and eyes.
Stay home when you are sick.
CDC signs have been posted across campus reminding people to wash their hands and practice good hygiene.
Coronavirus Impacting Community Members’ Lives
There are members of our community who, while healthy, are experiencing the impacts of this virus, whether as international community members or as community members with family or loved ones working or traveling in one of the affected areas of the world. They are understandably feeling anxious or worried about their families.
Our values and commitment to love the dear neighbor call us to be mindful of those who feel particularly impacted and challenged, and to provide support and all possible reassurance to them.
We appreciate your patience as we work to keep our community updated and to share information as developments happen. This is an ongoing and fluid public health situation, and our top priority at St. Catherine University is the safety and wellbeing of all our community members. While we do not know what the impact of COVID-19 (or any infectious illness) will be here at St. Kate’s, we do have the opportunity to make sure our campus is prepared. This includes, but is not limited to, reducing each person’s chance of becoming ill, minimizing the spread of illness, preparing for and meeting the needs of those who may become infected, and having contingencies that minimize the impact of larger disruptions and/or the community beyond our campuses.
For additional and up-to-date information, visit stkate.edu/coronavirus-info, which includes an FAQ for your reference. You may also contact the St. Catherine University Health and Wellness Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 651-690-6714.