Coronavirus Health and Travel Update

From:
Leslie Lawrence, M.D., Executive Director for Health and Wellness

Rensselaer continues to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While there have been no confirmed or suspected cases on campus, we want to reassure you that we have protocols in place, are taking steps to minimize the spread of viruses throughout campus should they arrive, and are prepared for a broad range of contingencies should the outbreak reach pandemic proportions. Rensselaer has a Pandemic Illness Plan that is regularly updated and would be employed if necessary, including baseline University Pandemic Planning Protocols.


Rensselaer continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Out of an abundance of caution, we want to share with you important information regarding Spring Break and university travel. 


Rensselaer travel restrictions have been updated as follows effective immediately:



  1. Rensselaer does NOT recommend personal travel outside of North America at this time. Students returning from any country outside of North America must contact the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287 or by email; staff or faculty members returning from any country outside of North America must inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, at (518) 276-6164 or by email.

  2. Rensselaer also does NOT recommend travel on cruise ships at this time. Students returning from travel on cruise ships must contact the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287 or by email; staff or faculty members returning from travel on cruise ships must inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, at (518) 276-6164 or by email.

  3. Rensselaer recommends that you avoid large meetings (more than 50 attendees), particularly in areas with large outbreaks/clusters, including domestic locations.


In addition to these travel restrictions and recommendations, Rensselaer coronavirus protocols are still in effect:



  1. All university-related travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea is suspended, including using airports in those locations as transit points. Since individuals on university business travel are required to use Concur, Rensselaer will flag all travel to or through China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea.

  2. The university strongly recommends that all students, staff, and faculty members avoid all personal travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea.

  3. Any member of the university community who travels to or from China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea is required to self-identify prior to returning to campus and will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Students returning from these countries must contact the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287 or by email; staff, faculty members, or visiting scholars returning from these regions must inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, at (518) 276-6164 or by email.

  4. All students who are currently in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea should immediately contact the Rensselaer Health Center at (518) 276-6287 or by email if you have not already done so. We will contact your Class Dean so that all of your professors and advisers will be informed that you may be unable to return until after the travel ban is lifted. We will arrange a schedule to help you make up missed work/research. 

  5. All faculty and staff who are currently in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea should immediately inform Human Resources by contacting Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, at (518) 276-6164 or by email. You should also contact the nearest American consulate as the U.S. is currently planning further evacuations of American citizens.

  6. The university has suspended study abroad programs in China, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. This includes programs scheduled to begin later this semester. All students currently in any of those countries are to return to their home locations in the United States or respective country as soon as possible.

  7. The university is communicating directly with students in the impacted study abroad programs and is working with those students to ensure their safe return to the U.S. and to minimize disruption to their academic studies.

  8. All members of the campus community traveling abroad to countries not restricted above as part of academic programs or university business must receive approval in advance and must register their travel information with the International SOS website (enter the Rensselaer membership number 11BSGC000023 in the Member Login section).


The coronavirus situation remains fluid, and public health advisories and health precautions can change with little notice. Anyone planning any international travel should frequently check travel advisories for their destination, including layovers, and continue to do so until their return to the U.S.


Students who have questions about their return from countries affected by COVID-19 should contact the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287 or by email; staff and faculty should contact Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, at (518) 276-6164 or by email.


Official communications from the university regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and additional information can be found at the COVID-19 Outbreak Communications website.  


Tips for preventing the spread of viruses:



  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

  • Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze, and also before you prepare food or eat. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

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