Community Coronavirus Update

Posted on March 11th, 2020 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Community updates on COVID-19
DATE: March 11, 2020

I write today with an update on the College’s continuing steps in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The safety and wellbeing of all members of the Gustavus community remains our number one priority. Please take the time to read this entire message and explore the included links for more information.

There have now been five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. There have been no confirmed cases in Nicollet County or at Gustavus, nor do we have anyone on our campus under quarantine. The College continues to receive frequent guidance and communication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Nicollet County Public Health, and the South Central Healthcare Coalition as the situation develops. Our guiding philosophy is to follow guidelines for higher education from the Minnesota Department of Health

MDH is not advising that institutions limit College-sponsored domestic travel except for people in high-risk groups. MDH is discouraging international travel, and Gustavus is not allowing College-sponsored travel to certain countries. If you are scheduled for any upcoming College-sponsored travel and have concerns, or are a member of a high-risk group, please talk to your trip leader (students) or work supervisor (employees).

Recently, some colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, have made the decision to move to remote learning for the next several weeks. While Gustavus is considering a variety of scenarios, some of which may eventually include remote course delivery, there are no imminent plans to transition away from in-person classes. We are currently hosting training sessions for faculty and staff to familiarize them with technology tools that may be used if the College eventually transitions to remote learning. In the event that we must make changes to how classes are delivered, our priority is to work diligently to allow students to complete their coursework. At this time, MDH is not recommending that Minnesota colleges and universities transition to remote learning or limit class participation.

Five things to know:

  • The Gustavus Health Service partnered with GTS to create a standalone COVID-19 webpage and is now posting a short, daily update online. This brief message is being provided to ensure up-to-date information and will be updated at the end of every business day even if no major changes occur.

  • Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to consider their personal plans for Spring Break and make thoughtful decisions about whether to travel. Mass transportation or other travel plans may be impacted by factors outside of your control.

  • Wash your hands regularly and practice good respiratory hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes.

  • Members of the community are asked to limit contact by refraining from handshakes, high fives, and other hand-to-hand contact.

  • All decisions about the College’s response to COVID-19 are being made in consultation with and guidance from public health officials at the national, state, and local level.

In addition to the ongoing steps communicated last week and those listed above, Human Resources is reviewing policies for employee absences and developing plans for temporary policies related to sick leave, childcare, and remote work, and other divisions are considering the impact of a possible reduction in staffing should the virus spread more widely.

Our commitment to providing a safe campus environment and ensuring the wellbeing of all members of the Gustavus community requires that we develop contingency plans for a wide range of possible scenarios. This thorough planning will ensure that the College is equipped to respond appropriately to this fast-changing situation. Please know that Gustavus is taking these precautionary measures seriously and continually assessing the possible risk to members of our community. We remain committed to using the best information available to provide updates and take appropriate steps to reduce the risk to our community.

Students are encouraged to forward this email to your parent(s) or guardian(s). All members of the Gustavus community are also encouraged to update their emergency contact information on the Gustavus website. Please visit the Gustavus COVID-19 website for more information, including a daily update, links, and a FAQ page.


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