This is an archived message. Please check the most recent updates to ensure you have the most current information.
Released: March 2, 2020 at 4:32 p.m. PST
Dear members of the Whitman community,
I am sure most of you have heard by now that there is one coronavirus patient being treated locally at Providence St. Mary Medical Center as well as several deaths from the coronavirus in Washington State.
We are taking this information very seriously, and I know you are as well. Right now, our local health officials are not recommending any additional action on our part. Campus remains open, classes are being held as normal, and we are working on contingency plans in case there comes a time when that is not a possibility.
This situation is changing rapidly. We are watching the spread of coronavirus very closely and are ready to act should recommendations change. We are preparing for every possible evolution of this outbreak including ways it may impact the home countries of some of our students, areas where our extended Whitman family live throughout the Unites States, and here at home in the Walla Walla Valley.
Spring Break Travel Form
As part of our coronavirus prevention plan, we are gathering travel information from every member of our campus community. This will help us share alerts about the movement of the virus, continue to prepare for the possibility of self-quarantines after travel, and to assure we have enough housing available for students who choose not to travel over spring break.
Whether you choose to travel or not, we ask that every member of the campus community fill out this form and let us know your plans.
Per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we strongly discourage you from traveling to any locations that are Alert Level 2 and Warning Level 3. Should you travel to those locations the college will require self-isolation upon your return.
Accommodations During Spring Break
It is not too late for students living on campus to change their plans for spring break. Please indicate in the form mentioned above if you are a student who lives on campus and would like to stay in campus housing during the break.
Today’s developments sound alarming, but one of the most effective ways to protect our community is to educate yourself on how to limit exposure and transmission. I shared these steps with you on Friday, but would like to take the opportunity to do so again:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Most importantly, please stay home if you are feeling sick and encourage others to do the same.
The coronavirus task force met this morning and will continue to meet regularly to ensure we are prepared to respond as the situation evolves. We encourage you to check your email regularly for updates on Whitman’s coronavirus response. We have also set up a website where these communications will be posted regularly. There you will also find useful links with recommendations from the CDC, the Washington State Department of Health and the World Health Organization.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students