Coronavirus Update, 3/11/20

The university continues to monitor the updates on the spread of coronavirus and has formed a COVID-19 Task Force that is assessing the situation on our campus and local community daily to ensure the safety of everyone in the Oglethorpe community. The task force continues to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

We have no confirmed or presumptive cases on campus or among our students abroad, nor has there been confirmed contact by students, faculty or staff with infected persons in the community. We have been in touch with all faculty, staff and students who traveled abroad over spring break and have confirmed that no one has travelled to a country with a CDC level-3 designation. We are also reaching out to students who are currently interning off-campus to ensure they are following safety protocols.

Current efforts to protect the community

Residence Halls

All residence halls were cleaned and sanitized over spring break. Additionally, resident assistants (RAs) are sanitizing stair rails, elevator buttons and other common areas nightly. Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers have been distributed throughout campus for public use.

Campus life staff are making contingency plans to quarantine students who self-identify with symptoms. We will work with students to be screened by our healthcare provider, Peachtree Immediate Care, who will refer students to an appropriate medical facility for testing as needed.

Dining Hall

Our food service provider, Aramark, has enacted their level one preparedness protocol, which includes increased sanitation of surfaces and dishes, increased staff hygiene (washing of hands every 15 minutes), and cleaning and rotating of serving utensils touched by diners. Hand sanitizer has been provided at food stations for public use before and after using serving utensils. Outside cups and containers have been banned and single-use cups and containers are being provided. Signage encourages people to use a clean cup when using beverage machines.

As with all of our contracted service providers, Aramark is prohibiting employees who are ill from coming to work.

Campus-wide maintenance and cleaning

Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes have been distributed across campus. Cleaning staff are wearing gloves and are disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as hand rails, door knobs, and gym equipment. Restrooms are being cleaned regularly and inspected for adequate supplies of hand soap. Special focus is being given to areas where large public events take place, such as the Conant Performing Arts Center.

Events and classes

The impact of COVID-19 changes rapidly and we are developing plans for potential cancellation of campus events. At this time, most events will continue as scheduled.  This is subject to change. In the meantime, we encourage members of the community to use good judgement when attending large gatherings and practice social distancing (maintain distance from others, avoid shaking hands, don’t share food and drink with others).

We are also making plans for the possibility that we need to suspend in-person classes and events for a period of time. Today the university faculty met to discuss course delivery via online methods if this situation arises and professors are currently making arrangements for instruction to be delivered remotely.  Classes will continue to meet on campus as long as it is safe to do so.

If you develop symptoms of the coronavirus (shortness of breath, coughing, fever) it is imperative that you do not come to campus. If you live on campus, notify the residence life staff immediately, but do not attend class. Faculty and staff should not come to campus if you are symptomatic.  We ask that faculty work with students to make accommodations for missed classes due to illness.

Email communication

IT services recently announced new password requirements. The time to do this is now to ensure your access to email and online services is in place in the event that the situation on campus changes.

Additional updates will be sent via email and posted to the university website on a regular basis. Please check your email regularly.

If you experience symptoms

Key symptoms for COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal issues. For the large majority of patients who may have flu-like symptoms, testing for coronavirus is still not necessary and treatment for the flu is the protocol.

If you are feeling unwell, our health partner for employees is Kaiser Permanente and for students it is Peachtree Immediate Care.  Peachtree Immediate Care was on campus yesterday to offer assistance in our preparations, although they cannot test for the coronavirus, they can screen people and refer them to the appropriate testing facility (likely a hospital ER) if necessary.  If you or students are not well- please check in via their website to be seen.

We will continue to seek guidance from the CDC, WHO, and Department of Public Health as our primary sources of information and will provide updates as the situation changes.