March 9, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
As the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continues to receive national and international attention and has spread to the United States, we want to reassure the campus that we have been in close communication with the Chancellor’s Office, Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (who has legal authority to determine health actions to be taken for our campus and the region), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, we are in close communication with Stanislaus County Office of Education, Turlock Unified School District, Modesto Junior College and are now reaching out to San Joaquin County Office of Education and Merced County Office of Education as well as our elected officials and other community groups. This will be the first of many communications addressing the evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and our campus preparation and responses.
We have been in daily contact with the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and they have communicated there are no confirmed cases in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties and no suspected cases at Stanislaus State. Therefore, the current risk to the Stan State campus and surrounding community remains low. The California Department of Public Health has provided guidance outlining four increasing levels of risk for the state. As we are at low risk, our current efforts are precautionary measures as outlined in Scenario 1.
Stanislaus State is open and classes are continuing as normal. We are not planning to cancel or suspend classes or operations at this time. We will follow the guidance of and remain in close consultation with the California State University Chancellor's Office, Stanislaus County Health Services Agency the California Department of Public Health, San Joaquin Public Health Services and other groups including our local K-12 school districts and elected officials, before making any decisions. Faculty, staff and students will be notified of any changes to this status via email, the University website and on the University’s social media channels. In the event classes are suspended or campus is closed, a StanAlert text message and email will be sent to employees and students. Please update your SMS information in StanAlert to ensure you will receive a text message.
This communication addresses four major issues currently affecting the California State University:
1. Travel (International & Domestic) and Study Abroad
- Effective immediately, all CSU campuses and auxiliaries will suspend University-related international and non-essential domestic travel until further notice. However, depending on location and other specific factors, the president may authorize exceptions to these guidelines using a six-factor self-assessment tool developed by the CSU in consultation with the California Department of Public Health.
- The CSU’s International and Off-Campus Programs is working with all CSU campuses on a case-by-case basis to evaluate and safely return students who are studying abroad. All Stan State students who were studying abroad in CDC Category 3 countries have returned home safely. We have conferred with Public Health to ensure that we have met their standards for safe re-entry to campus.
2. Large Group Gatherings and Events
- As mentioned previously, the CSU is drafting a six-factor assessment tool that will be shared with the campus community to help evaluate and make decisions on whether to continue to host large group gatherings or make alternate arrangements, again in consultation with the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. As a campus, we are emphasizing prevention and encouraging social distancing.
- For campuses within the Scenario 1 category, without evidence of community transmission, the CDPH guidance for mass gatherings and large community events includes:
- Events may still need to be modified, canceled, or postponed if participants are traveling from communities with COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Event organizers should:
- Collaborate and coordinate with community partners including the local public health department, hotels where participants are staying, airlines, the event venue and other partners.
- Use event messaging and communications to promote everyday preventive health messages to your participants and staff, which include:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- Recommend that participants minimize close contact (e.g., recommending no hand shaking or hugging).
- Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending events. Create refund policies or remote participation capability such as live stream that permit participants the flexibility to stay home when they are sick, need to care for sick household members, or are at high risk for complications from COVID-19.
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your events, to the extent supplies are available. Plan to have extra supplies on hand for event staff and participants, including sinks with soap, hand sanitizers and tissues. Promote proper and frequent hand hygiene.
- Isolate staff or participants in a designated space who become ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 at the event and provide a clean disposable procedure facemask, to the extent available, to wear for those who become ill. It is not necessary to distribute masks to healthy participants.
- Implement a strategy to prevent the theft of prevention supplies.
- CDPH does not recommend cancelation of community events at this time if no COVID-19 cases exist within the community.
- The University’s Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT) is meeting twice a week to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make decisions regarding upcoming campus events. More information will be provided on the status of upcoming events.
3. Implications for Course Delivery and Campus Operations
Because our campus is currently assessed as relatively low risk, we are not currently planning to suspend face-to-face instruction or to close the campus. As noted above, the Chancellor’s Office will provide guidance to re-evaluate that decision if the situation changes. Faculty are encouraged to give thought to alternate modes of instruction and how they might adapt courses to one or more of those modes of instruction if there is a need to suspend face-to-face class meetings. Academic Affairs will make every effort to support faculty in this endeavor.
4. Guidance regarding spring break travel
We want everyone to have a wonderful and restful spring break and return to campus healthy. Please take extra precautions and be mindful of where you are travelling to safeguard your interactions with others who may be at risk. Follow the CDC prevention guidelines to prevent the spread of germs during this season. We wish everyone a restful and positive spring break and to return to campus healthy to finish out the year.
Finally, we’d like to encourage everyone to engage in discussions of coronavirus with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, recognizing that many of our students, faculty and staff from affected regions may be concerned about family and friends who might be at risk. Please know there are campus resources for people who may have concerns or other worries including, the Student Health Center, Psychological Counseling Services or our StanCares team. Free confidential counseling and referral services are also available for our faculty and staff via the Stan State Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated at the lowest level to coordinate communications and possible responses. The IDRT and EOC are making recommendations to University leadership based on guidance from the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, California Department of Public Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Please check your emails and the University website for updated information.
Ellen Junn, President
Steven Filling, Speaker, Academic Senate
Maria Marquez, President, Associated Students, Inc.