Dear CUNY students,
As we continue to monitor developments related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a respiratory illness causing flu-like symptoms, it is important to gather facts, take preventative measures and prepare for a wide range of potential scenarios.
Although two cases of coronavirus in the New York City area have been confirmed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the risk to New Yorkers remains low. At this time, we are aware of no coronavirus cases involving anyone in the CUNY community.
However, the New York cases have raised our level of concern, and we are stepping up our preparations for the possibility of our campuses and neighborhoods being impacted by the virus. Please be assured that CUNY is taking this potential threat very seriously, and actively preparing to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff, along with the continuity of our operations across a range of scenarios.
Please check back with CUNY.edu/coronavirus for frequent status and guidance updates and other important resources.
Everyone can do their part to help minimize the potential impact of this emerging public health threat. The CDC notes that it is currently flu season, and recommends getting a flu vaccination; taking everyday preventative actions, such as strict handwashing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help stop the spread of germs; and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. Wearing a mask is not considered necessary.
In keeping with CUNY’s International Travel Guidelines, study abroad travel to countries under a CDC level 3 warning (avoid nonessential travel) has been suspended. Level 3 countries at the time of this update include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, though the list is expected to expand. Students already studying abroad in these countries will be supported to return or remain, based on factors specific to each case. The CDC’s travel notices are the most pertinent and should be the primary point of reference, even when corresponding State Department travel advisories are significantly lower. If you have questions regarding study abroad, contact the Study Abroad Office of the campus running your program, or at your home campus if you are already abroad with, or considering a non-CUNY program.
At this time, summer and fall study abroad programs in countries currently under a CDC level 3 warning may accept applications, but students should also consider applying to backup programs in alternate locations, in case the situation does not improve in these countries. Students applying for a Chancellor’s Global Scholarship for study abroad in countries under a CDC level 3 warning for summer or fall 2020 will be asked to list an additional program in a location not impacted as part of the application process.
Planning for and returning from international travel
The U.S. government has taken strict measures regarding coronavirus, including the suspension of entry by foreign nationals who have visited a country under a CDC level 3 warning within the past 14 days. Measures to quarantine and/or test for the virus those who have been in those countries and are allowed entry into the United States (U.S. citizens, legal residents and their families) are also being implemented.
In order to protect the CUNY community, we ask that all students who are traveling abroad for reasons other than study abroad (vacation, business trips, etc.) register their itineraries with CUNY-GO. All students returning from study abroad or travel to countries designated as level 3 are asked to contact the Study Abroad Office of their campus before returning to campus.
What to do if you display symptoms
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, 14 days after returning from a country under a CDC level 3 warning, or after close contact with someone who has recently traveled to them and is displaying these symptoms, you should immediately contact your health care provider. Your health care provider could screen you over the phone, and will work with public health officials to determine if you need to be tested for coronavirus. If, for any reason, you need help connecting to a health care provider, please call CUNY Campus Health Services who can answer questions and make referrals. You can also call 3-1-1 to locate the closest city-operated hospital.
Anyone who is sick and exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory illness is asked to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever [100.4° F (37.8° C) or greater using an oral thermometer] and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.
Accommodating affected students
CUNY has asked faculty and staff to be prepared to accommodate affected students to the greatest reasonable extent, including, but not limited to, facilitating enrollment after the deadline, fast-tracking academic advising, permitting make-up exams, and extending due dates of final assignments and projects.
Future travel plans
Following CDC guidelines, CUNY students are strongly advised to avoid all nonessential travel to countries under a CDC level 3 warning. Anyone with international travel plans should check the CDC’s Travel Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for the country of travel.
CUNY is giving all facilities extra attention in terms of restocking hand sanitizers, soaps and other cleaning supplies and ensuring that there are plenty of locations throughout common areas where students, faculty and staff can wash or sanitize their hands. Clear signage regarding proper hygiene (washing hands and covering coughs, etc.) will be displayed in restrooms, common areas and offices across CUNY campuses.
We understand that members of the CUNY community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. CUNY encourages students who feel anxious or worried about friends and family because of the coronavirus to contact Counseling and Health Services or campus Student Services.
Equity and inclusion
I want to take this opportunity to remind our diverse CUNY community that we are an institution that takes pride in its welcoming environment and unwavering promotion of the values of equity and inclusion. These challenging times are not an excuse to behave any differently towards those with whom we live, study and work.
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez