Dear Colleagues: Syracuse University’s Public Health Team continues to monitor pandemic conditions, as well as current and new public health guidance. As we continue to experience improvement in key public health indicators, the University is assessing the status of current…
Coronavirus Update: New Travel Guidance and Ongoing Preparedness Planning
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve quickly in the United States and abroad, with new information and new cases confirmed daily. Syracuse University continues to vigorously monitor and respond to these developments, in close coordination with New York State officials, the New York State Department of Health and the Onondaga County Health Department. The University also continues to review public health and travel advisory guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department. In the face of this rapidly developing global health emergency, our highest priority remains the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff.
We continue to take action to best protect members of our campus community, particularly those who have traveled recently or plan to travel in the near future. Travel advisories from the CDC, as well as guidance from the NYS Department of Health, are informing our decision making concerning University-sponsored travel and also our recommendations to faculty, staff and students regarding personal travel at this time. Importantly, we are also working closely with leaders in the SUNY system related to coordinating travel policy guidance, given the interconnectedness of our student and faculty populations.
With these considerations in mind, I would like to make you aware of the following new actions and updated policies and recommendations:
- University-Sponsored Travel: All University-sponsored faculty, staff and student travel to a country the CDC indicates as a Level 2 or higher travel advisory (given “community spread” of coronavirus) is prohibited. As of this writing, this includes China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea. Additionally, until further notice, we are requiring that any events or guest lectures featuring scholars traveling from these five countries be rescheduled or canceled. We will continue to monitor CDC travel advisories and update the prohibited travel listing as appropriate.
- Non-Essential Travel Counsel: We strongly encourage faculty and staff to consider canceling any non-essential international travel. Further, we suggest limiting or postponing domestic air travel at this time. We understand there may be extenuating circumstances that require you to travel by air. We encourage you to contact Seth Tucker, director of global safety and support, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.1968 to seek additional guidance.
- Spring Break Travel: Students with spring break plans are strongly encouraged to consider the reported presence of coronavirus in or near your planned destination. We are discouraging all non-essential domestic airline travel, as well as all international airline travel, to avoid the possibility that your freedom of movement may become restricted due to travel restrictions and health precautions in place during your planned period of travel or after your travel concludes.
- Spring Break International Study Abroad Programs: Given a growing concern over future international travel restrictions, which may limit individual freedom of movement within and between certain foreign countries, we have canceled all University-sponsored spring break study abroad programs. We are taking this action in the interest of the safety, security and free movement of our students and faculty. An increasing number of our peer academic institutions in New York and across the United States have done the same. Impacted students should contact the Syracuse Abroad office at 315.443.3471 or email@example.com.
- Monitoring Study Abroad Centers: Syracuse Abroad programs operating in London, Madrid, Strasbourg and Santiago remain open and operational. However, if the CDC takes action to elevate the travel advisory (beyond a Level 1) for the United Kingdom, Spain, France and/or Chile, the University will immediately reevaluate the operating status of our programs in those countries. Efforts are currently underway to ensure that students who may be impacted by a future decision to suspend existing Syracuse Abroad programs in London, Madrid, Strasbourg or Santiago are able to complete remaining coursework upon suspension of the program.
- Operational Leadership: The uncertain and dynamic circumstances associated with our efforts to anticipate and prepare for the many possible implications of coronavirus on our campus community require a coordinated and whole-university approach to planning, prevention and communications efforts. For that reason, I have directed Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie to assume operational leadership of the University’s coronavirus response planning and preparedness efforts. Vice Chancellor Haynie has, in the past 24 hours, established a coronavirus policy-planning task force charged with defining a coordinated and collaborative coronavirus response plan for Syracuse University. Many in our community, particularly faculty and staff with expertise in public health, will be asked to collaborate in these efforts. It is clear that the unknown and uncertain challenges associated with COVID-19 will demand a collective and collaborative effort on the part of our entire campus and Central New York Community.
I recognize these new actions may have unfortunate implications for many in our community. However, given the guidance we are receiving from federal and state partners, I feel strongly that we must take proactive steps to prioritize and safeguard the health, wellness and safety of our entire community. As this situation evolves, we will remain in close contact with our campus community, as well as with parents and families.
I ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this expanding and concerning global health emergency.
Chancellor Kent Syverud