The following message was sent to the Drexel community on March 9 about the University stepping-up coronavirus precautionary measures.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
Following the confirmation of the first few coronavirus cases in the Philadelphia area, Drexel University will be taking additional steps in the coming days to safeguard students, faculty and professional staff. These measures likely will require that we alter our daily routines and some spring break travel plans, and yet still carry on the University's critical mission of teaching and research. Working together, we will do everything possible to mitigate the impact of the expected spread of the coronavirus in our region.
The University's response is now being coordinated by a multi-tiered Emergency Preparedness Committee, with representatives from all areas of the campus. We will be communicating updates regularly, and the latest information can always be found on the 'Drexel's Response to Coronavirus' website at drexel.edu/coronavirus.
Our steps are being guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Drexel may take measures locally that go beyond the CDC precautions out of an abundance of caution. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said that we are entering a period where it may be necessary to consider cancelling large gatherings, close schools and expand work-at-home options for employees. Each of these areas is under study at Drexel.
Final exams will be held as planned next week but students should anticipate the possibility that exams may be conducted online, rather than in a classroom setting. This issue is under intensive review by the Provost's Office in consultation with the deans and faculty. We are also assessing the feasibility of moving undergraduate and graduate courses online, if necessary.
Intensive Courses Abroad, Study Abroad and International Co-ops
Discussions are underway to decide whether to cancel Intensive Courses Abroad, study abroad and international co-ops for the spring and summer terms. A decision will be forthcoming in the next day or two, in order to give students time to make alternative arrangements.
All University travel to China, South Korea and Italy remains restricted unless approved by the provost, and student programs in these countries have been suspended. Information on restrictions and areas of concern can be found on the Office of Global Engagement's Emergency Updates webpage. University-related travel is still permitted although a suspension of University-wide travel is being considered.
Spring Break on Campus
Over the spring break, we encourage all members of the campus community to be cautious if they plan to travel. The CDC details travel concerns at its Travel Health Notices website and offers precautions that you can take to remain safe. Plans are being put in place to accommodate students who prefer to stay on campus over the break.
If you are traveling abroad on a personal trip, please consider how your travel could affect your ability to return to campus. Currently, the University is requiring that students, faculty or professional staff who travel to a high-risk (CDC Level 3) country remain in quarantine or off-campus for two weeks upon their return. We also are considering extending this precaution to individuals traveling to a Level 2 country.
Going forward, please continue to minimize the spread of illness through good hygiene, including covering your mouth when coughing; covering your nose when sneezing; frequently washing your hands; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home if you are sick; and sanitizing personal spaces. More detailed information on the coronavirus can be accessed at drexel.edu/coronavirus.
Finally, it was deeply troubling to learn last week that a Drexel student originally from China was verbally harassed while riding the Market-Frankford El in Center City. While we cannot control events beyond our campus, we must take care not to make assumptions based on perceived symptoms, ethnicity or national origin.
Please be assured that the steps we have taken so far, and those that are under consideration, have one overriding goal — to preserve and maintain the health and safety of all members of our community, while also enabling Drexel to fulfill its mission as a learning community.
Paul E. Jensen, PhD
Interim Nina Henderson Provost