Washburn University implements travel restrictions due to coronavirus

Published: Mar. 3, 2020 at 4:06 PM CST
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Washburn University says they are implementing travel restrictions for their students who study abroad due to the rising concern with the novel coronavirus.

University President Dr. Jerry Farley sent an e-mail to students and staff saying there was no immediate threat to the school, but wanted to assure them that there are plans in place and they are preparing.

He said they have assembled a team to address concerns and create new procedures if needed. He listed their current protocols:

Campus Preparedness and Response Protocol

We are grateful to have experienced team members and processes in place to follow in preparation for disruptions to campus including epidemics and pandemics. Our focus on preparedness is one of the reasons we tested our IAlert system why we are talking about thunderstorms and tornados though it is only March.

As far as the novel coronavirus is concerned, we have been following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the state of Kansas and the Shawnee County Health Department. At present, there are no confirmed cases in Kansas nor in any of our neighboring states. Moreover, the precautions we have been recommending for the seasonal flu are appropriate for this virus as well. Good personal hygiene – particularly frequent hand washing – is still one of the simplest and best precautions.

Travel Restrictions and Study Abroad Impacts

While study abroad remains an important focus at Washburn, we will automatically suspend and restrict travel any time a US Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory, or a CDC Warning Level 3, is in effect. Due to such travel advisories currently in place surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak we are restricting travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. This includes all University-sponsored travel, including study abroad, academic and research-related travel.

We do still have three students from China who have been unable to return so far this semester due to travel restrictions from China. They continue to report that they are safe and well and we hope to have them back as soon as possible.

Spring Break Plans

Next week is the start of spring break and some of you have travel plans. Domestic travel should not be an issue, but if you are planning travel outside of the country, we encourage you to check the latest travel warnings and alerts on the Department of State and CDC websites. This information can change on a daily basis, so please check regularly and be aware of developments that may affect travel to and from your destination.

Daily Vigilance

You are far more likely to catch the seasonal flu than COVID-19 but you can help protect yourself from both by adhering to some simple precautions

The CDC urges each of us to:

- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as that is the route of transmission for many viruses and bacteria.

- Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow, or alternatively with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

He included a link to a

which reinforces those practices.

"As we’ve seen, the situation with this particular virus has changed even in the past day or two. We will do our very best to keep you informed and to safeguard the health and safety of the entire Washburn community." Farley concluded.