How Campuses Can Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak
These nine steps will help your school or university limit the spread of this respiratory illness.
The current coronavirus outbreak that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, has put the world on edge. That’s especially true now that there are indications person-to-person spread of the respiratory illness is occurring.
So what can schools and universities do to keep the virus from spreading among their students and employees?
Several years ago, Campus Safety spoke with Dr. Sony Shepherd of Safe Havens International on the steps campuses can take to limit the spread of the H1N1 virus. Her advice applies today to the coronavirus.
Those steps include:
- Create or review your pandemic flu plan and identify which officials are responsible for activating it.
- Educate your community about common sense hygiene that can prevent the spread of disease: washing hands; covering your mouth when coughing; and staying home from school or work when you are sick.
- Address continuity of operations should the campus be closed for a significant amount of time.
- Stock up on infection prevention supplies (cleaning supplies).
- Develop a process with the public health department on how to report absenteeism.
- Have policies in place outlining how and when to isolate students if they become ill.
- Have policies in place outlining when students who have recovered can return to school.
- Heed the advice of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Don’t purchase masks for healthy people — they won’t prevent the spread of the coronavirus to healthy people. People who are infected, however, should wear masks so they don’t infect others. UPDATE April 7, 2020: Some regions of the country have issued sweeping orders requiring employees and customers of essential businesses to now wear face masks or face coverings, although they have been encouraged to not use N95 masks and other masks designated for healthcare professionals. This is being done because COVID-19 is highly contagious and individuals who are infected and contagious might not have any symptoms.