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COVID-19: Critical Information and Update

Wittenberg Community,

While there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Wittenberg University and the risk of transmission on our campus remains low, the health and safety of all must be our highest priority. Toward that end and in light of the state of emergency issued by Governor Mike DeWine, the recommendations made at his office’s press conference today, and the ongoing counsel of the Ohio Department of Health, we are taking several precautionary measures to protect our community as we continue to monitor this global outbreak. A special COVID-19 Health Advisory website has also been created to assist our community with key information and resources.

We fully understand that the measures outlined below will cause disruption, but we believe they are necessary to safeguard our students, faculty, and staff, and still deliver the high-quality education expected. I ask that you please review this message carefully as it provides several important updates to keep each of us safe.

Teaching, Learning, and Living

Beginning Monday, March 16, we will be briefly suspending all face-to-face instruction until at least Monday, March 23. Wittenberg faculty will be in touch with all students in their respective classes to continue their progress toward the specific learning outcomes of each class. All labs, performances, and studio art are being evaluated now, as are the delivery of support services. Provost Mattson will send a separate e-mail to faculty with more guidance and information about coursework for next week.We ask that all faculty and students frequently check their email accounts for updates.

Additionally, all students who traveled home over spring break are encouraged to stay at home until Monday, March 23, unless otherwise notified. Those students who were traveling over spring break are asked not to return to campus until that date. Students who live in on-campus housing are also being asked not to return to campus after spring break unless they request and receive prior authorization from the Office of Residence Life at housing@wittenberg.edu or 937-327-7800.

For those students who have an immediate need to return to campus to retrieve essential items from their residence hall or Witten’burbs property, please contact housing@wittenberg.edu or 937-327-7800 for assistance.

For students on a University meal plan who receive authorization to stay on campus, meals will be provided. Health and counseling services will also continue, and professional residence life staff will be present.

Athletics

Our Department of Athletics will be providing a separate communication to student-athletes and their families with more details on upcoming athletics contests. For now, all student-athletes who are not competing in spring sports are encouraged to abide by the recommendations of the University and remain home until further notice. Wittenberg athletics is also encouraging fans to follow its social media channels and visit its website for the most up-to-the-minute information and live coverage links for all athletic contests. At this time there will be no restrictions to spectators attending outdoor events. Until further notice, only immediate family members will be allowed to attend indoor athletic contests.

Large-Scale Gatherings and Events

In tracking the evolving developments with COVID-19, we know that one of the most effective measures to prevent its spread is to avoid large group interactions. As such, we are reviewing all upcoming events, including concerts, performances, lectures, etc. through March 23 to determine if they need to be postponed or altered in some way out of an abundance of caution at this time. We expect to extend this review beyond March 23, but for now, we are taking it week by week and will follow further direction from the ODH and/or Governor’s Office.

University Employees

With regard to all University employees, the University is still open and operating normally. The Office of Human Resources recently communicated the policies, procedures, and expectations for employee leave. HR is also currently determining what options may be feasible for telecommuting, along with information about COVID-19 reporting and workplace needs. I expect more information to be distributed in the near future, but for now, we will work on a case-by-case basis in consultation with HR and your respective supervisor.

Travel

At this time, we are suspending all international and non-essential domestic travel until further notice. Essential travel must be reviewed and authorized by area supervisors. We are also continuing to uphold our previously announced recommendations to avoid travel to those countries listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Level 2 or Level 3. Those employees and students who do decide to travel personally to CDC Level 2 or 3 countries will need to report their travel to the Provost (faculty) and Student Development (students). The University also reserves the right to limit the return to campus until the current 14-day incubation period has expired.

Prevention

Our new COVID-19 website provides links to the ODH website and CDC website, both of which offer comprehensive overviews regarding the virus, as well as the precautionary steps you can take to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. These steps include:

  • Routinely washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds during each time.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Final Thoughts

We recognize that this is a critical time for our community, our state, and our world. This is also a fluid situation, which we will continue to monitor with vigilance. For now, please bookmark our COVID-19 website, and direct any questions to our Campus Dispatch at 937-327-6231 or switchboard@wittenberg.edu, so they can be answered and/or distributed to the proper campus leaders or offices.

Thank you for your continued understanding as we navigate these uncharted waters together. I am grateful for the swiftness of information-sharing, subject matter expertise, and area partnerships, which are helping us respond effectively in ensuring the health and safety of all.

Best regards,

Michael L. Frandsen, Ph.D.
President

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