Coronovirus Update: March 14, 2020, 3:32pm

I understand the great concern within our campus community, especially now that one of our own members has tested positive; and I am writing to provide additional information. I want to first reiterate that we have been advised by medical experts that this does not pose a danger to the health and safety of those on campus. Through this challenging time, my goals have been that we take responsible measures to protect the health and safety of our campus community, continue to operate to protect the integrity of this academic year so students continue to receive the best educational experience possible, and that we are transparent with information.  

We learned late yesterday of our student testing positive for the virus. This student was tested after a person with whom she was in contact tested positive for the virus. That individual was symptomatic, but is recovering. Thankfully, our student is asymptomatic and notified the campus out of an abundance of caution, even though she was not required to do so. We appreciate that she did notify us and we felt it was necessary to be transparent and share this information with the College community.  

We have a process in place for these types of notifications, which was followed yesterday. Student Affairs got detailed information from the student regarding her situation and that information was shared with the campus liaison for Coronavirus-related matters–our Provost, Michael Parrish. We contacted CUNY Central and they consulted with New York State Public Health Officials. Independently, we contacted local health officials–who also consulted with their infectious disease experts. All of the medical professionals concurred that there was no risk to the campus and no need to close the campus. After going through this consulting process, we sent messages to faculty and students in the student’s classes. I then sent my message to the campus community, hours after we first learned of the matter.   

Beyond the experts’ opinion that it was not necessary to close, the weekend schedule and current recess allows to us to sanitize all of the areas where the student visited. Additionally, as noted in a prior email from facilities, we continue our campus-wide efforts this weekend with deep cleaning. We have also engaged a private cleaning vendor to provide additional deep cleaning on campus this week.    

Besides these cleaning efforts, we have two separate groups meeting to address concerns as they arise. The first, smaller group is a steering committee that meets on a daily basis; while a larger task force is meeting on a weekly basis. Both groups have representatives from across campus and you can find the names of the people participating in these meetings on our Webpage.  

I hope this is the last time I will have to send such a message, but based on the reporting on the virus, I think this is unlikely. Throughout this time, we will continue to investigate all new reports of COVID-19 that come to our attention, dispel false rumors, and monitor and report on situations of concern raised by members of our community, especially our employees who remain on campus.

Please know that we will continue to do everything we can during this challenging time to keep you safe and informed.

By William J. Fritz