Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
With two cases of COVID-19 (commonly known as coronavirus) now confirmed in San Francisco, USF continues to be actively engaged in efforts to prepare for and mitigate the impact of the virus on our community. To our knowledge, no one in our community is connected with the two San Francisco cases. One of our students was exposed to COVID-19 outside the city of San Francisco. The student was not on campus after exposure and has been in self-isolation.
Many of you are preparing for spring break (and School of Law students will soon return from their break) and I know some have questions or concerns around travel and safety. Please be aware we have posted updated guidance on international and domestic travel, as well as guidelines and strategies for teaching and learning during the outbreak. There are no plans to close any USF campuses at this time. The Continuity of Instruction Resource Team provided resources to support instruction and academic progress in the event that faculty members are unable to attend class in person, or have students who are affected by illness, self-isolation, or quarantine procedures.
For all members of our community, I ask your assistance and patience as we proceed. Our response will be most successful if we do what USF does best during challenging times: support one another and work together to protect our beloved community.
Members of the USF emergency team are meeting daily and working around the clock to support the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff in response to rapidly evolving circumstances. The team is also regularly updating the resource page with detailed information.
While no scheduled large-scale events have been canceled or postponed, the university is monitoring developments and will make modifications accordingly and/or as required by the San Francisco Department of Public Health or U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Custodial personnel continue to clean common areas, restrooms, and office spaces following industry standards and CDC guidelines and protocols.
Even with our team’s hard work, expertise, and commitment, we are bound to face significant inconveniences, disruptions, uncertainties, and challenges in the weeks ahead. Public health situations like the one presented by COVID-19 are, by their very nature, unpredictable. We will continue to work with local, state, and federal partners to prepare for and address new challenges that may arise.
Given the risks posed by the virus and how little is known about it, we will likely have to make some difficult choices. Our priority is the health and well-being of our community as we continue our commitment to teaching, learning, and USF’s mission. Already, the virus has disrupted travel plans, some immersion and study abroad programs, and other long-planned events. There could be more cancellations in the future.
Here are my specific asks:
- Take care of yourself. USF community members work hard and are committed to showing up, even “powering through” a cold or fever. The best thing you can do for yourself, your friends, and your colleagues is to take care of yourself if you aren’t feeling well. Stay home from work if you’re ill. Students, make accommodations for classes. Get some rest, get any medical attention you need, and get yourself healthy.
- Protect yourself and your family with precautions. Wash your hands, and heed other advice from the CDC and local authorities.
- Stay informed. We will continue to update the coronavirus resource page on myUSF with the latest relevant information and guidance. If you have questions, please consider this your first stop. If you have further questions, you can direct them to Eric Giardini, director of campus resilience.
Our prayers go out to those who are sick and those who have died from the virus, and to the medical professionals who care for them. We are grateful to the scientists and researchers who are actively working on understanding more about the virus.
Thank you for your continued patience as USF addresses this rapidly evolving situation. I also want to reiterate my thanks to the members of the USF team who are working diligently to ensure the health and well-being of every member of our community. Working together, I am confident that we will be able to navigate whatever lies ahead and support one another through this uncertain time.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.