(NOTE: For the most current information about coronavirus -- including information published after this message from the Chancellor -- visit the university's dedicated Coronavirus webpage.)
Students, faculty, staff and guests:
As the circumstances surrounding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) evolve, I would like to update you on how the university is monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and refining strategies to keep our community healthy.
First, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Kansas or on any University of Kansas campus. At this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus.
However, it is important to note that global circumstances suggest it is likely this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and the risk assessment will be updated. At this time, the CDC emphasizes that everyday preventive measures such as handwashing can help prevent the spread of disease.
Planning and monitoring
Earlier this year, both the Lawrence campus and KU Medical Center campus emergency management teams turned their attention to the emerging coronavirus situation and began regular monitoring and planning. These campus teams continue to meet at regular intervals and are in constant contact with national, state and local health officials, as well as colleagues at other universities.
In addition to monitoring developments, these groups continue to plan for potential scenarios that could affect our campuses in the weeks ahead. While COVID-19 is distinct in many ways, it should be noted that KU and its partners have longstanding processes in place for this type of public health situation.
The Lawrence campus emergency management team and the Office of International Programs at KU Medical Center continue to review university-sponsored travel decisions, including suspension and reinstatement of out-bound and inbound programming for faculty, staff and students. Below is a summary of key actions taken so far:
- On January 31, in light of the U.S. Department of State issuing a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning to China, the university issued a restriction on institution-related travel to China for faculty, staff and students.
- Last week, in accordance with university policy, KU began the process of suspending study abroad in countries classified as Warning Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel by the CDC, which includes China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
- As of today, the university will suspend all institution-related travel to and from countries or regions with a Level 3 advisory from the CDC or a Level 4 advisory from the U.S. Department of State due to COVID-19.
Additionally, it is crucial that all Lawrence campus-sponsored international and domestic out-of-state travel be registered in advance, per guidelines and best practices. For international travel, employees should complete our International Travel form. For domestic-out-of-state travel, Lawrence campus employees should contact their Shared Service Center prior to travel. Students traveling internationally on university-affiliated activities must register through the Student International Travel Registry.
Additionally, visiting scholars should be registered in advance of their visit via our KU Visitor Registration form.
Collectively, these processes will enable the university to help Jayhawks who may be traveling and provide tailored support on and off campus as circumstances evolve.
With Spring Break approaching, we encourage you to be thoughtful about personal travel. Specifically, we strongly encourage you to reconsider any personal international travel you may have planned. The reality is, there are two circumstances you need to consider if you travel: 1) you might become ill, and 2) as countries evaluate travel into and out of their regions, limitations and bans are being put into effect, often with little or no warning.
If you do plan to travel internationally for personal reasons, we appreciate you registering with KU ahead of time. Again, this will enable the university to help Jayhawks who may be traveling and provide tailored support as circumstances evolve.
- Students can register via our Student International Travel Registry.
- Lawrence campus employees can send an email summarizing their planned travel to the Administration and Finance unit.
- KU Medical Center students and employees should contact the Office of International Programs.
If you travel to areas that are experiencing community spread or in countries with Level 3 or Level 4 advisories, you are encouraged to contact your personal primary care provider to determine whether a self-quarantine is necessary upon your return.
Inclusivity and support
As we respond to this situation, it is important to reaffirm our commitment to a safe, supportive and inclusive educational environment. Our international community is an essential part of KU, and we have a responsibility to ensure our university is free of discrimination and harassment. Relatedly, we should seek opportunities to offer care and support to those who have family and friends in areas affected by COVID-19.
As additional developments occur, we will continue to provide you with resources and best practices to help keep our campus healthy.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas