March 9, 2020
Dear fellow members of the Tulane community:
Today the first presumed positive case of COVID-19 has been identified in Louisiana. State and local public health agencies are actively monitoring the situation and the test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. University leaders have been engaged in extensive planning efforts over the last several weeks regarding COVID-19. We are continuing to consult with public health agencies as well as subject matter experts – many of which are our own faculty – to hear their recommendations and guidance. The university is committed to ensuring that all students can complete their spring semester coursework on time and with minimal disruption. We are still operating normally.
We understand that many of you may have questions, particularly about traveler screening and coming to our campuses for work or classes. The health and safety of the university community is paramount. We are updating information, guidance and FAQs as needed depending on changing local or global conditions and guidance from public health agencies. All updates and FAQs will be posted online. We note that in response to recent developments, we are updating two major policies, related to returning travelers and future travel.
Updated Travel Policy
If a traveler is recently (within 14 days) returned to the U.S. from a CDC Level 3 Travel Advisory country, they need to self-isolate, per CDC guidance. This includes not coming to Tulane’s campuses until after the 14-day isolation period.
From now until the end of the Spring semester, no student, staff, or faculty member will be required to undertake any international travel or any domestic travel by plane that is not critical for our operations. If such travel was planned, and the community member chooses to cancel, we will do our best to provide appropriate alternatives. Please inform your supervisor of any changes in your plans as early as possible so that there is adequate time to find alternatives.
Self-isolation is when a person does not leave their home for a designated period of time to eliminate the opportunity of exposing others to any germs or infectious diseases they may have. During self-isolation you should take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor your fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your supervisor or professors before returning to work and classes.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
- Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
If you get sick (including a fever, cough, or trouble breathing) you should take the following actions:
- Seek medical care. Call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room.
- Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
If you have recently (within 14 days) traveled to or from a location where COVID-19 travel advisories are in place, or if you have been around people who have been in a location where COVID-19 travel advisories are in place within the past 14 days, then you should call the Tulane Student Health Center for a medical screening. Call +1-504-862-8121 during business hours (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) and +1-855-487-0290 after 5:00 p.m. This is applicable for all Tulane faculty, staff, students, scholars, and their families.
If you are ill, it is your responsibility to communicate with your supervisor and/or professors about your absence.
Reminder on preventive actions
Please adhere to safe health practices to reduce your risk for infection from this and many other infectious diseases:
- Wash your hands often (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds), especially after you have touched someone who is sick. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you have cold or flu symptoms, make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes by using the crook of your arm or disposable tissues. If you use disposable tissues throw them away after use and then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Avoid sharing drinks with others.
- Maintain a balanced diet, exercise, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you think you are sick, call your healthcare provider for assistance.
Additional prevention techniques can be found at the CDC site on prevention.
Enhanced cleaning and preventive hygiene
Additional sanitizer dispensers, standards, and product to last 6 months of increased use will be held on campus. An additional 3 months of product designated for Tulane will be stored at all times at our local vendor’s warehouse. ServPro is on standby as our preferred vendor should we need a complete sanitation of the entire campus. Two additional companies have been mobilized as secondary assets to help should staffing be an issue.
In addition to the above actions, the following steps are being taken:
- Hand sanitizers dispensers have been installed in all campus buildings, including residence halls and pool classrooms, in main building entrances, and first floor elevator lobbies.
- All daily cleaning and disinfecting is now being done using disposable wipes to minimize cross- contamination.
- Elevator buttons are being disinfected throughout the day.
- Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are being placed in all Shuttles & Transportation vehicles for passenger use.
Possible future actions
We want to reiterate that as of today, all Tulane campuses are operating normally. Should it become necessary to implement social distancing protocols or close a campus, the university will make that determination in consultation with the necessary public health authorities and experts and will communicate the decision to you in a timely manner.
We are aiming to balance two imperatives: Continuing our work of education and research while keeping our community safe and protecting the health of communities beyond our campuses, as well.
Postponement or adjustment of large-scale events
At this time, guidance from state and local public health authorities do not recommend that we change any of our currently planned large events or activities.
If widespread community transmission of COVID-19 develops in New Orleans or Louisiana we may implement social distancing protocols, which could include the postponement or cancellation of large events and activities.
Depending on the transmission, this could include moving classes to an online learning format. Currently we are asking faculty to ensure they are prepared to move to online learning in case we need to cancel in-person classes. Some faculty are preparing by holding a class session online to ensure they and their students can make that transition seamlessly. We applaud them for taking this type of preparatory step. Additionally, depending on the transmission, this could include changes in the dining halls on campus, including moving to disposable cutlery, plates, bowls, and glasses.
Technology-based learning and working
If social distancing becomes necessary to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, increasing the use of technology for learning and working will be encouraged. The university has several online platforms available for teaching and meeting, including Canvas and Zoom.
Should you have any questions we encourage you to continue to check the university's COVID-19 website for the latest answers to FAQs, communications, and travel advisories.
We recognize that this can be a stressful time and are here to assist.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer