COVID-19 Email from Dean of Students 03/04/20

Email sent March 4, 2020
To: Main Campus Students, Main Campus Employees, and Remote Employees
From: Dan Falk, Dean of Students

Hello everyone,

As you are likely aware, an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.  The Coronavirus has been designated SARS-CoV-2, while the disease it causes has been designated COVID-19. To date, the vast majority of diagnosed cases are in mainland China. This is an evolving situation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide updated information as it becomes available, including updated Travel Notices for countries with community transmission. Current Coronavirus information can be found on the CDC website here

Let me first share that there have been no documented cases of COVID 19 at Southwestern College or in Cowley County. However, as many of our students, staff, and faculty travel for spring break, we felt it important to share the following information.

Southwestern College has a designated team of staff monitoring the outbreak of COVID 19. The team is in communication with the Cowley County health department regarding information and protocol regarding testing, local risk assessment,    and quarantine measures, The team also maintains contact with Student Health Monitoring from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:   

This information provided below is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical or legal advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions about Novel Coronavirus

  • What is coronavirus? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the risk to the American public of becoming infected with this novel coronavirus is currently low.  You can keep up with the latest information from the US on the CDC website using the following link:
  • How does it spread? Although we have a lot to learn about this virus, it is currently believed that it spreads like other respiratory viruses- by people with the infection coughing and sneezing. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands.
  • How do I help prevent the spread of viruses, including coronavirus? You may be able to reduce the risk of spread of coronaviruses by taking the same steps as you would to prevent infection from the flu and the common cold:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
    • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
    • The CDC recommendations include:
      • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
      • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
      • Monitor your symptoms closely. Remember that the likelihood is low that you have coronavirus. Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.
      • Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65. If you returned from China in the last 14 days, and your arrival date was February 2 or later, you will have received instructions from the CDC and from the local or state health department. Please follow these instructions.
      • Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.
      • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
      • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
      • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • What are the symptoms of this infection? Symptoms of coronavirus may include the following:
    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
    • If you have returned in the past 14 days from travel to a country with a COVID-19 outbreak AND are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), the CDC advises you to seek medical advice and call ahead to your health-care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care, emergency room or another health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.
  • Should I wear a mask? Local and state public health agencies currently do not recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick.  It’s most important for people who are sick to wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze. In some parts of the world, mask use is customary. People wear masks often for a variety of reasons, including to avoid pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons. Because mask use is customary in some cultures, it’s not appropriate to make assumptions about why someone is wearing a mask or to stigmatize or discriminate against people who choose to wear masks.
  • What do I do if I feel sick? If you develop symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath please take the following steps:
    • Call your health provider in advance. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.
    • Check in with the Dean of Students for tracking of COVID-19-related symptoms.
    • As noted previously, if you are returning from mainland China, please also check in with these contacts and stay home for 14 days.
  • What is Southwestern College doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and Influenza?
    • The custodial cleaning program uses an EPA-registered disinfectant to clean touchpoints (e.g., door knobs, tables, keyboards light switches), public and common area restrooms and kitchens daily
    • Students living in on-campus housing are expected to clean the private bathrooms in their residences
  • Travel warnings are in place for the following countries:
    • China- Level 3- wide spread transmission of the virus and travel restrictions
    • Iran- Level 3- wide spread transmission of virus and travel restrictions
    • South Korea- Level 3- wide spread transmission of virus and travel restrictions
    • Italy- Level 3- wide spread transmissions of virus and travel restrictions
    • Japan- Level 2- concern of certain populations being exposed to virus

Please remember to take the precautions you can, wash your hands and to monitor your health closely – and for those of you traveling over spring break please be mindful of the CDC’s recommendations. Please follow the link to the CDC’s travel information website:

Dan Falk, Dean of Students
Southwestern College

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