Dear College of Education Community,
King County has confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the situation locally, nationally and globally remains fluid. While the vast majority of cases around the world are mild, a smaller percentage of cases are severe and involve pneumonia. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have died from the disease and who have suffered from severe illness.
While there are currently no plans to cancel classes or suspend operations, the College of Education is working to make sure that our community is well-prepared for two scenarios:
- where a subset of our community is under self-quarantine but otherwise we are operating normally; and
- where social-distancing protocols are enacted and/or some University operations are suspended, much like a snow day (except this might be for an extended period).
Towards this end, I am working with University leadership as well as our College leadership team to prepare for potential disruptions to our classrooms and office/work spaces. Please rest assured that any preparedness activities or interventions will follow the guidance of public health agencies, and will be implemented in conjunction with the UW’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) and Environmental Health and Safety.
The President/Provost’s Office will continue to provide guidance as we move forward — I will also send periodic messages appropriate to our College community. Please also frequently check the University’s COVID-19 website, the King County COVID-19 website and the CDC’s COVID-19 website for updates. Please note that any decisions regarding cancelation of classes, travel restrictions or suspension of operations would come from the Provost. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to sign up for UW Alert, so that you receive any important campus notifications in a timely manner.
We are fortunate to live in a region with an outstanding public health infrastructure and are optimistic that our significant investments in public health preparedness will enable a rapid and effective response. Nonetheless, we are working closely with both our campus colleagues and local public health officials to ensure that our community is prepared to help reduce the number of illnesses and decrease negative impacts of the outbreak.
A cornerstone of this preparedness plan will likely be non-pharmaceutical interventions similar to those that the CDC has developed for pandemic flu. The CDC has released guidance on how to prepare. I strongly encourage you to review these materials, both so that you can prepare personally and so that you understand the strategy that we are following. As a reminder, the best guidance we can give to our students, faculty, and staff is to stay home when sick and to practice good hygiene (wash hands frequently and call your health provider if flu-like symptoms emerge.
One final note: While the risk of the new coronavirus to most individuals in our community remains low, influenza and other serious respiratory infections already are circulating, as happens every year. Thus, staying home from work and school when sick, working/learning remotely, and washing hands are what we do. I also encourage you to demonstrate compassion throughout this season and actively help to combat incidents of bias or social stigma. The Washington State Department of Health and Public Health - Seattle & King County both have outstanding anti-stigma resources. Faculty are especially encouraged to be flexible in accommodating students in the weeks to come.
Thank you for your patience and stay tuned for more details.
Dean, University of Washington College of Education