Coronavirus Update: NVU travel restrictions, VTDOH advisory

Coronavirus Update: NVU travel restrictions, VTDOH advisory

March 5, 2020

A Message from President Elaine Collins

NVU Students, Faculty, and Staff,

We want to update you on new travel policies and let you know we’ve updated the website with an FAQ section, outline what Northern Vermont University has done to prepare for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past couple of months, and inform our community about steps we are taking to prepare in case of an outbreak in Vermont.

University Travel: Effective, immediately, the university is cancelling all university international travel scheduled through April 30. University domestic travel is currently unaffected but will be reevaluated frequently and is subject to cancellation on a case-by-case basis. All faculty involved with the international travel trips have been asked to communicate directly with students on their trips.

New Health Department Advisory: The Vermont Department of Health issued an advisory today that as of March 4, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, travelers returning from China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran should stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States. Travelers returning from Japan should monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States. This is not retroactive. Those who returned prior to this advisory should continue self-monitoring. The reason for this is that travelers returning home today as opposed to last weekend had more opportunity for community exposure. The VT DOH requests that all who have traveled to areas where there have been COVID-19 outbreaks, contact the VT DOH directly and closely monitor themselves for fever and other symptoms.

We request again that anyone traveling from ANY areas impacted by COVID-19 overseas, report their travel. Students must report this information to Dean of Students Jonathan Davis via email at Jonathan.Davis@NorthernVermont.edu; faculty and staff are to report this information to Dean of Administration Sharron Scott at Sharron.Scott@NorthernVermont.edu

Steps Taken, Task Force Convened: NVU began preparing for COVID-19 in mid-January with meetings between the dean of students, the facilities director, the dean of administration, and other pertinent staff. On January 31, NVU sent its first notice to the university community providing information on the novel Coronavirus and sharing methods for keeping our community healthy. In early February, we also began our stay-healthy campaign with posters and education with our students. Specific actions were taken by the university’s facilities teams to develop specialized cleaning and sanitizing protocols as well as to order additional sanitizing wipe stations for all public areas requiring these items. Those will be installed as soon as they are received. Additionally, our dining partner, Sodexo, has taken steps to increase its cleaning and sanitizing protocols in order to keep our community safe.

Daily Meetings are Taking Place: Since February 27, the COVID-19 emergency task force, a subset of the NVU emergency response team, has met daily about the COVID-19 situation. These meetings share information, provide updates on progress, and inform about the VT-DOH/CDC’s evolving information.

We are actively planning NVU’s response to the possibility of expanded virus activity in our area. Facilities, Information Technology and Academic Affairs are heavily involved in developing contingency plans, protocols, and procedures for maintaining educational and business operations. Additionally, we are in daily and frequent communication with the VT-DOH.

Respect and Kindness in our Community: We respectfully remind our community members to be respectful and welcoming throughout this situation.

NVU Website is the Information Portal for COVID-19: We continue to add to our section on COVID-19 at NorthernVermont.edu/Coronavirus. Check back frequently for updated information and guidelines with this comprehensive source. Today you will see the update on NVU travel and a new FAQ section. We will notify you when there has been a significant update to the site.

Stay-Healthy Practices

You can help avoid the spread of illness by following CDC guidelines for keeping healthy. No single action will provide complete protection from illness, but an approach combining the following steps can help decrease the likelihood of transmission.

  • Stay home from work or class when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Scrub your hands at least 20 seconds, or roughly twice the length of the “Happy Birthday” song. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and throw the tissue away after you use it. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into clothing—i.e. your sleeve rather than your bare hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs and viruses spread that way.
  • Get sufficient sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

We recognize that there is a great deal unknown about this form of virus and it can cause fear and anxiety.  We recognize that this is a fluid and evolving situation and are told that guidance could change as the situation continues to change.

Thank you,

Members of the COVID-19 Emergency Task Force

President Elaine Collins (Chair), Dean of Administration Sharron Scott, Provost Nolan Atkins, Dean of Students Jonathan Davis, Dean of Enrollment and Marketing Mike Fox, Development and External Relations Officer Leah Hollenberger, and Director of Marketing and Communications Sylvia Plumb