President’s Email to Faculty, Staff and Students: COVID-19 Update Tuesday March 10, 2020 3:05 pm
Dear Titan Family:
In addition to utilizing the resources provided below as we face the possibility of a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19 occurring within our campus community, I ask that we also treat each other with the kindness, compassion, and empathy synonymous with what we are: Family.
Indeed, the deep and meaningful bonds we share as a Titan Family are all the more poignant during times of uncertainty and suffering — not just in the care of and commitment to each other, but for all humanity. That familial sense of empathy and compassion must now drive our collaborative efforts to both comfort those affected and prevent further transmission.
Our Proactive Work
Since January, we as a campus community have been proactively preparing for the potentiality of the community transmission of COVID-19 locally and regionally. As stated in an email to campus on February 27, 2020, those preparations have included the formation of an Infectious Disease Working Group led by Campus Health and Safety professionals who are tracking county, state, and federal recommendations while leading campus-wide preparations in the event that an outbreak occurs.
Much of the progress of the Working Group has been and will continue to be made public in real-time on all of our official social media platforms, through a variety of emails, as well as a University website that is specifically dedicated to providing information on the coronavirus. All of those communications have included a point that I seek to emphasize here:
- At this time, based on all the evidence and data collected in partnership with local and state health officials, our campus remains safe.
- Zero presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported at CSUF.
Where We Are
It is important to note that “where we are” at the writing of this email could very well change 20 minutes after I send it – that has been and continues to be the reality of this ever-evolving situation, even with the most trusted resources at hand. The good news is, in our proactive efforts over the past few months, we have adapted to the fluid nature of this situation, making us well-positioned to address challenges if the evidence and medical experts ever indicate that the virus has reached our campus.
However, as of right now, that has not happened, and with the risk of transmission associated with classroom instruction remaining low and our campus safe, the university will continue operating without interruption at this time. To be clear, this and other such decisions are made with the most relevant and recent resources from and in concert with a variety of local and state medical professionals, including:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The Orange County Health Care Agency.
- The State Department of Public Health.
Moreover, that information is rapidly changing, prompting the need for our decisions to not only be equally dynamic, but also made through the lens of the three guidelines of the mitigation phase that California is currently in:
- Reduce the rate of transmission.
- Minimize the impact of coronavirus infections on health care and other systems.
- Allow for time to develop a possible vaccine or viable treatment solution.
Finally, our decisions will be made with the dual goals of protecting the health and safety of all Titans while taking all necessary and deliberative steps to assure continuity and avoid the disruption of our students’ academic progress.
Continuity Plan – Academics
Already, some of our sister campuses in Northern California (where the COVID-19 outbreak is at more critical levels) have suspended in-person classroom teaching in favor of virtual instructions, and we are in close contact with their leadership teams, the Chancellor, and state and local health officials as we prepare for that possibility at CSUF. But again, the most-up-to-date reports indicate this is not necessary on our campus at this time.
That said, I want to assure you that if and when it is determined that it is in the best interest of our health and safety to transition to non-face-to-face teaching modalities, we are ready, willing, and able to do so. As Provost Oliver wrote to all faculty on Friday, in the event that normal campus operations are indeed interrupted, the continuity of teaching, learning, and research are essential for both the service of our mission and the wellbeing of the communities we serve.
To that end, over the past few weeks, we have initiated rigorous and wide-ranging actions that prepare us for the possibility of virtual classrooms and teaching, including:
- The doubling of our capacity for TITANium.
- The installation of webcams in all general classrooms to provide Zoom capabilities.
- Guidelines provided to faculty on a variety of alternative teaching methods, including ensuring all course documents are on TITANium and alternative course materials are prepared to transition to virtual modalities.
Virtual Test Run
Moreover, in the coming days, we will announce a more specific preparation plan for the delivery of virtual instruction that includes:
- A test run of virtual instruction
next Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19, with the exception of classes
that meet on a different day.
- In those instances, the test run will occur on the day that class normally meets.
- The campus will remain open and all faculty and staff will continue their regular working hours.
The Campus Will Remain Open
Again, our campus remains safe and these are proactive and precautionary measures at this time. However, in the event that we do move to a virtual instructional model, we expect that the campus will remain open in myriad other ways, including:
- Laboratory or other instruction that cannot be completed virtually.
- On-campus housing.
- Dining services.
- Access to offices and labs for faculty and staff, as well as for some students who cannot receive instruction remotely.
Action plans for treating and quarantining confirmed cases in housing are in place and will be implemented in partnership with health officials should the need arise. All the while, our custodial teams are focused on an increased schedule of regular disinfection of all our classrooms and common areas.
Continuity Plan – Events
What has been deemed necessary, especially in light of the California Department of Public Health’s interim guidance as it relates to mass gatherings, is the postponement of certain indoor campus events that are not considered essential to the student experience. These postponements are on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with:
- The Chancellor’s Office as well as the aforementioned Infectious Disease Working Group and their colleagues at the Orange County Health Care Agency.
At this time, no CSUF sporting or performance events have been postponed, but we are preparing to host “fan-less” athletics events and “audience-less” performances as is appropriate and necessary to protect the health and safety of our community. If we do so, we will take all reasonable steps to work toward a virtual delivery of many of these events.
For weeks, we have significantly curtailed international and non-essential domestic travel for our faculty, staff, and students. Effective immediately, CSUF and each of our 22 our sister campuses are bolstering precautions in this arena by suspending all international and non-essential domestic travel from now until May 31, 2020.
A more specific and detailed directive on this restriction will be forthcoming to those impacted by this decision, including those who are seeking reimbursements for non-refundable advanced purchases and travel credits.
We also continue to assess the safest course of action for faculty and students that are currently teaching or studying abroad. Any questions about these actions can be directed to University Risk Management at (657) 278-7346.
Further, all members of our community who:
- Have traveled to any country/region for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran) in the last 30 days or been in close contact with someone who has, AND,
- Have respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough or difficulty breathing) must do the following before returning to campus:
- Students: Contact your primary health care provider or Student Health Services (657-278-2800) BEFORE visiting either facility so appropriate arrangements can be made.
- Faculty and staff: Contact your primary health care provider BEFORE visiting the provider’s office so appropriate arrangements can be made.
Mental Health & Wellness
We are fortunate that no presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 cases have occurred on our campus at this time, and that we have been proactive in preparing for any and all scenarios. However, given the breadth of our Titan Family around the world and the uncertainty that comes with such situations, many of us are understandably feeling anxious or scared.
- Students in need of support are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). They are open for appointments, walk-ins, and 24-hours-a-day through their emergency hotline at 657-278-3040.
Faculty & Staff
- Our LifeMatters at CSUF Employee Assistance Program is available to all faculty and staff in need of support, 24/7. It can be accessed online at www.MyLifeMatters.com with the CSUF employee passcode of “Titans,” or by phone at (800) 367-7474.
The CDC recommends that we can all help to respond to this significant public health threat by taking simple, everyday precautions such as:
- DO NOT COME TO WORK OR ATTEND CLASS IF YOU ARE SICK OR SYMPTOMATIC. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF YOUR SYMPTOMS WORSEN.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
The CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks for general prevention from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Regular handwashing provides better protection.
This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. Accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available from the following agencies:
- Orange County Health Care Agency
- California Department of Public Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
Again, the University will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and issue additional notices if and when necessary. Information is available and will be regularly updated on the University’s website at http://coronavirus.fullerton.edu/.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your continued cooperation, empathy, kindness, and support.