Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Spring Break Travel

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 28, 2020

Dear WPI Community,

Given the global concerns regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) and, specifically, concerns regarding impacts on both domestic and international travel, WPI wanted to provide the following updates.

Spring Break Travel

With spring break approaching, many of you may be planning to travel. To be clear, the university cannot restrict your personal travel, but we do want to be sure you have some helpful information, as you consider the impact COVID-19 may have upon your travels.

The global situation is changing every day, and the spread of the virus is not fully understood nor predictable: a region that is considered low risk today may quickly become high risk, and your travel may be impacted. You may encounter issues when leaving or entering a country, or when returning to the U.S. Additionally, screening for COVID-19 symptoms is in place at numerous airports around the world, including the U.S. You may be directed by public health authorities to self-isolate for two weeks, and to monitor your health. You could even be quarantined by authorities.

At this time, the U.S. State Department has deemed a number of countries to be high risk and has warned against travel. That list may see additions, potentially soon. We urge all travelers to check the U.S. Department of State Travel Pages for the most recent updates and take the warnings into serious consideration.

WPI Coronavirus Working Group

Here at WPI we are actively monitoring this evolving situation. The university convened a Coronavirus Working Group earlier this year, directed by WPI Health Services and comprised of key campus partners including global studies, student affairs, residential services, campus safety, facilities, and others. The Working Group meets weekly to determine appropriate adjustments to WPI operations based on local, regional national and global developments.

The Working Group has implemented a number of operational actions, such as changes to overseas programming and increased cleaning protocols on campus. These actions have been taken to both mitigate and prepare for the potential impact on our community. Our goal is to help students, faculty, staff, and others in our community minimize their risk of exposure. Out of an abundance of caution, WPI has canceled summer programs in China and Taiwan, and has required all students in the Bangkok Project Center to return to the United States.

Best Practices to Protect Yourself

As with other infectious diseases and public health concerns, the university is following the guidance and direction of local, statenational and international health agencies. The entire community can help prevent the spread of germs by:

  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Frequently washing your hands – for at least 20 seconds – with soap and water.
  • Though less effective, use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, or if you feel sick.
  • Avoiding crowded places and markets.
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene, and avoiding touching your face.
  • Seeking medical attention if you develop symptoms, especially fever or shortness of breath.
  • Not traveling if sick.

For the most up-to-date information, please consult the CDC website

It is important to note that this is also the height of the flu season, and students, faculty, and staff are far more likely to be impacted by the Influenza virus.

The Working Group will keep the WPI community informed as new information becomes available. In the meantime, anyone with questions or concerns should contact WPI Health Services at 508-831-5520.  

Thank you all for your assistance in preventing the spread of germs.