Coronavirus Update: New Event and Travel Policies Effective Immediately
Dear Brandeis Students and Faculty and Staff,
We are writing to update you on a series of new policies that Brandeis University is implementing, effective immediately through May 3, in response to COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus. During this period of time we will continue to review these policies, provide regular updates and offer guidance about activities after May 3, such as Commencement, as soon as we are able.
As you may have read in the news, the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts is rising as more people are tested. We are not aware of any cases among Brandeis students, staff or faculty at this time. While the state of Massachusetts continues to believe that the risk of transmission in our state is low, we know that community spread is occurring in various parts of the United States, with six states already declaring a state of emergency. While much remains unknown about COVID-19's characteristics, after consulting with leaders in the medical community in Boston, we are implementing the following policies based on the concept of increasing social distancing. We understand that these and other measures that we will likely implement in the future will cause significant disruption and inconvenience to the campus community. But on the basis of medical advice we believe that these policies will help mitigate and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We should all be prepared, given the fluid nature of this health crisis, for additional restrictions and updates in the coming weeks.
We understand that there are likely to be differences of opinion with respect to how we should respond to the uncertainties associated with this new virus. But at the same time, we know that Brandeis is a community where care, concern and compassion for the other are longstanding values. This is a moment when we need to embrace these values more than ever. We thank you for your patience, flexibility and understanding as we manage through this difficult situation.
New Brandeis University Campus Restrictions Related to Coronavirus
(Effective immediately through May 3)
On- and Off-Campus Events
Effective immediately, if you are planning any in-person Brandeis event with more than 100 attendees, on-campus or off-campus, you must postpone, cancel or “virtualize” it. This new policy does not apply to classroom instruction or other internal, non-social gatherings attended solely by members of the Brandeis on-campus community.
While athletic events on campus will continue for the time being, we will not permit spectators to the games/meets. This includes both members of the Brandeis community and those from off-campus.
Even for events with less than 100 people organizers should consider postponing the event and use remote technology instead. Evidence to date suggests that COVID-19 hits certain vulnerable populations harder, including older individuals and those with additional health conditions. Whatever the size of your event, consider postponing it if many attendees will be over the age of 60.
Given this policy we will be changing the Admitted Students Day scheduled for April 19 to a “virtual” event where admitted students can learn about Brandeis online with faculty, staff and students.
All meetings and classes attended by members of the on-campus community will continue to be held as normal. However, if you are not feeling well please do not attend class (this applies equally to faculty and students). A working group is reviewing resources for faculty, especially those with larger classes, who would like to switch to online teaching. More information regarding online options for courses will be shared by next week.
Effective immediately – and in step with new advice from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – we are suspending all international travel on Brandeis business or with Brandeis programs, for all faculty, students, postdocs and staff. This includes any travel associated with one’s scholarly activities as a Brandeis employee, even travel funded by a government grant, foundation, company or another university. Rare exceptions to this policy will be considered, but the request must be made in writing to the Provost.
We strongly discourage any personal international travel but if you do we request that you fill out this international travel form. This information will be used for the purpose of advising you on your return to campus. If you (or a spouse, partner or housemate) travel to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Level 3 (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) or Level 2 country (currently Japan) you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Students who travel to one of these countries and who live on campus will not be able to complete the 14-day self-quarantine on campus.
All University-related non-essential domestic travel is suspended. In addition, we strongly urge extreme caution and judgment for your personal domestic travel. Please consider alternative methods to communicate and hold meetings, such as teleconferencing. For the time being Brandeis varsity athletic teams will be able to continue to travel for games and meets, but this may be revised in the near future. Rare exceptions to this policy will be considered but must be requested in writing to the Provost.
Visitors From Outside Brandeis
Visitors from countries which the CDC has declared Level 3 (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) or Level 2 (currently Japan) cannot join us on campus until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine.
What You Can Do to Help Reduce the Impact of Coronavirus on Our Community
For students, faculty and staff: If you are sick with a fever, cough, or cold please remain at home or in your residence hall room. Please wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face with your hands, and do not share food or drinks. Follow all hygiene recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students with symptoms are asked to consult immediately with the Health Center by reaching out to Diana Denning, Health Center Administrative Director, for advice and next steps. During business hours call 781-736-3677; after hours call 781-239-1948. On-campus students living in residence halls should also connect with their Community Advisor for ongoing support as needed.
For faculty: Familiarize yourself with resources that would allow you to deliver your class online via Latte and Zoom. We request that faculty with strict attendance policies to revise their policies so that students who feel ill will stay home.
For staff: Be in touch with your manager, and familiarize yourself with how you can work from home if that is an option for you.
We understand many of our community members have questions related to the University response of this outbreak. The COVID-19 website has many resources, including an FAQ page that is being updated daily to address new questions that may arise during this fluid situation. We have also established an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for you to direct your questions.
Lisa M. Lynch, Provost
Stew Uretsky, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration