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MARCH 12, 2020 — As we head into Spring Break, I want to share with you what I know at the moment regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the GSW campus. The information I am getting comes from discussions and conference calls with the University System of Georgia (USG) as they coordinate with the Governor’s Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the CDC. A statement from the USG is included at the end of this message.

At this time, all 26 USG institutions are remaining open for face to face instruction and normal business operations. As more data becomes available, I anticipate any decisions regarding changes to operating status will be made at the institution specific or region specific level. Currently, I do not envision a scenario where the campus will be closed and vacated. It is possible however, that at some point, we may need to migrate instruction to the online format.

The Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) met yesterday to review action plans and identify steps to be take and questions to answer. The work of this team will continue to evolve as the situation on the ground changes and as we learn more about how students, faculty and staff are being impacted by factors both inside and outside of the campus community.

Our two main objectives as we complete the spring semester are to provide a safe and healthy environment for everyone and to make sure the students’ opportunity and ability to complete their courses will not be delayed by the unprecedented challenges we are faced with today.

While it is not required, I would ask that you please respond to the “Request for Travel Plans” sent to students, faculty, and staff from Chelsea Collins yesterday by email. This information will be helpful as we plan for the weeks ahead should we experience any campus cases of infection.

Please be careful and cautious over the break, follow the recommended hygiene protocols, and stay informed of any changes to campus operations by checking e-mail and GSW social media sites. We will provide updates through official channels and on the GSW website. Please verify all information before passing it along as rumors and unverified information leads to unnecessary panic and confusion.

Dr. Neal Weaver, GSW President


Statement from the University System of Georgia (USG) | March 12, 2020

The University System of Georgia is consulting constantly with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force.  DPH has advised that the risk of contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Georgia remains low.

Therefore, all 26 USG institutions will remain open for face-to-face education at this time.

For those of you, or anyone on your campus who may be traveling, please make sure they remain in regular contact with your campus for operational updates. 

Many of you have asked, what can we do? The most important responsibility we each have is to practice prevention. Prevention is paramount.

Please urge your faculty, staff and students to take appropriate measures such as:

  • Wash hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Be responsible and courteous to others and stay home if you are sick or experiencing symptoms.
  • Respect personal space when greeting others and during conversations.
  • Be mindful of those in high risk populations such as those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.
  • Follow CDC and DPH guidance on personal and business travel to avoid increasing your risk and that of others.

We take very seriously the responsibility to make prudent choices for the well-being of the USG community. The latest information is that (as of Thursday morning) there are 12 confirmed and 19 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. These numbers are likely to change.

For the latest updates, please monitor DPH’s website.

Health officials advise that the incubation period of COVID-19 is 2-14 days, with an average period of 5 days. Symptoms include coughing, fever and shortness of breath.  Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms.

Guidance from DPH identifies those with the highest risk to contract COVID-19 are travelers to countries with widespread outbreaks, as well as those travelers’ close contacts. Additionally, those most likely to develop serious illness after contracting COVID-19 include persons who are older than 60, as well as persons with chronic health conditions.

As you are aware, the CDC strongly advises against anyone traveling to a location subject to a Level 3 or higher Travel Health Notice, including Italy, South Korea, China and Iran. USG will not approve travel to those countries.

We urge all community members to practice good preventive measures and to visit the USG resource guide for the latest information concerning travel advisories and other guidance. You can also find additional information from the CDC here.

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