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Coronavirus Updates

 

As you are aware, coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide. Warren Wilson College health officials are closely monitoring the virus’s progress and are in daily contact with local, state and federal health authorities. There are no confirmed cases on Warren Wilson’s campus at this time.

 

Warren Wilson College will continue our robust preparation efforts to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. We will also continue to align our plans with the most current recommendations from experts, including following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Buncombe County Public Health, and the guidance from the CDC for those who are at higher risk & special populations. Students or employees who are considered part of a higher risk & special population should read and follow the CDC guidelines.

 

Important Message from President Morton regarding COVID-19, March 11, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is closely monitoring several confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state. There are currently no confirmed cases in Buncombe County or on campus. According to the March 10 guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, any patient meeting the following criteria is considered a Person Under Investigation (PUI): fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), negative influenza test and no other more likely diagnosis.


I’m writing to notify you that we have one student who will be tested by the Health Department for coronavirus (COVID-19) and is now considered a Person Under Investigation (PUI), pending laboratory test results. The student who is considered a PUI is in isolation in accordance with North Carolina Department and Health and Human Services protocol, and they are receiving care and medical attention.


I am in constant contact with our Pandemic Response Team, Cabinet and Warren Wilson health professionals, and we are in daily contact with local, federal and state health authorities. Warren Wilson will continue to use current guidance and recommendations on our campus. The health and safety of our community is our highest priority. The Pandemic Response Team will follow up with any new information or campus response. This is a quickly evolving situation, so please be attentive to further communications from the Pandemic Response Team.

President Lynn Morton

 

March 9, 2020 Campus Update

 

At this time, there are no confirmed cases in Buncombe County. It is important to note that the Buncombe County Department of Health continues to screen for COVID-19. We encourage you to monitor the CDC’s COVID-19 information site for regular updates.

 

As always, it is important to practice sound prevention precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:

 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Take a proactive approach to cleaning/wiping/disinfecting your workspaces, offices, counters, surfaces and residence halls.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are ill (except to visit a healthcare professional) and avoid close contact with others.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects (cell phones etc).
  • If you know of someone in our community who needs help or is suffering because of this situation, please tell Residence Life, the Counseling Center or Human Resources. In situations like this, bigotry and discrimination can thrive. Stand up to it when you see it. Turn fear into constructive action.

 

Health questions can be directed to the WWC Health Center at 828-771-2053 or after hours to the on-duty Residence Life duty phone for their living area.

 

Striving to Minimize Any Disruption to Classes

 

While doing our best to ensure your health and safety, we are equally committed to making every effort to minimize the potential impact on coursework should access to the College become limited. Faculty, staff, and administration will continue to work together to create plans that would allow most, if not all, coursework to continue during a period of possible disruption. Should it become necessary, students will be notified of any impact on their courses.

 

We have made some adjustments to the ways that the College operates, and we will continue to adjust as circumstances and guidance from public health experts change.

 

If a student is ill with cold or flu-like symptoms they should not be attending classes (per CDC guidelines). Such absences are to result in no negative impact on the student’s grade regardless of any absence policy in the course syllabus. This policy has been established by Paul Bartels, interim VPAA and will be in effect until further notice.

 

Actions Our College Has Taken

 

The Emergency Response Team continues to monitor guidance from federal, state and local public health experts. We have created a Pandemic Response Team that is working in small task forces that cover various areas throughout campus. Thus far:

 

  • Emergency Response Team has developed reporting and response protocols for different scenarios, including potential cases on campus.
  • Business Finance and Administration, Academic Affairs, and IT staff in collaboration with the Emergency Response Team are developing preliminary plans for business continuity, including various business services offices that can potentially work from home.
  • Academics and IT are collaborating in developing the protocols and mechanisms needed to implement curriculum delivery online.
  • The Facilities team is increasing the cleaning/disinfecting of all public areas of the campus – a follow-up message from Custodial Services will be sent from the ERT.
  • The Health Center continues to follow federal and local protocols in developing plans for the screening and response of potentially sick students and continues to collaborate with the Pandemic Response Team in campus response planning.

 

Travel, Conferences, and Large Gatherings

 

As of now, we have not canceled public events, but we will continue to evaluate them and encourage participants to be vigilant about their own health and how it affects those around them.

 

If you are planning to attend a conference or large gathering, please consider the local circumstances, the size and reach of the gathering (larger gatherings that draw globally pose a greater risk), your personal risk with respect to this virus, the importance of the conference to your professional life, and whether the conference organizers are taking appropriate precautions.

 

We are all facing a lot of uncertainty, and that can make us feel uncomfortable. Just remember, it is about preparedness and not paranoia.

 

 

Update to Travel Guidelines (March 4, 2020)

 

Warren Wilson College’s primary commitment is to the safety, health, and well-being of our campus community, and we are actively monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services.

 

The College has an action plan that is guiding our response to this critical situation for our campus and delineates steps to ensure continued academic and business services.  Our Emergency Response Team is meeting regularly and will continue to monitor the situation and update the community accordingly.

 

As a result of these recent updates concerning travel warnings, Warren Wilson College will not sponsor travel to, or through, countries listed at a Level 3 Warning on the CDC travel notice rubric https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices. All other travel will be permitted.

 

As such, scheduled trips to countries with a CDC Level 3 travel warning are canceled until further notice. In addition, College-sponsored faculty and staff travel to Level 3 travel warning countries for any purpose including but not limited to conferences, grant work, and consulting are prohibited. If or when additional countries are assigned a Level 3 travel warning by the CDC, the College will cancel trips to, or through, those countries up to the day of departure.

 

Faculty with questions about College-sponsored travel should contact their division chair or the VPAA.

 

We recommend that anyone who has traveled to, or through, a CDC Level 3 country and develops a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, seek medical advice by calling your medical provider or the Warren Wilson College Health Center at 828-771-2053 upon your return to campus. In order to prevent additional exposure,  DO NOT GO DIRECTLY TO THE HEALTH CENTER WITH THESE SYMPTOMS. If you cannot reach your local health provider, call ahead before going to the emergency room to notify them of recent travel to countries with elevated levels of COVID-19 and details of your symptoms.

 

While Warren Wilson College is not able to stop travel for anyone taking personal trips over spring break, we strongly urge members of the Warren Wilson community to consider such plans carefully at this volatile time and recommend that all heed CDC travel notices.

As always, it is important to practice sound prevention precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:

 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms such as those connected to the Coronavirus while you are on break, stay home while you are ill (except to visit a healthcare professional) and avoid close contact with others. Contact Student Life studentlife@warren-wilson.edu if your return to campus is interrupted due to these symptoms.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Upon your return from break, additional questions can be directed to the Health Center at 828-771-2053. For more information about COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

 

The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance. Let’s work together to maintain a safe environment for all.

 

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