How Campuses Can Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak

These nine steps will help your school or university limit the spread of this respiratory illness.

How Campuses Can Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak

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:

  1. Create or review your pandemic flu plan and identify which officials are responsible for activating it.
  2. 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.
  3. Address continuity of operations should the campus be closed for a significant amount of time.
  4. Stock up on infection prevention supplies (cleaning supplies).
  5. Develop a process with the public health department on how to report absenteeism.
  6. Have policies in place outlining how and when to isolate students if they become ill.
  7. Have policies in place outlining when students who have recovered can return to school.
  8. Heed the advice of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  9. 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.

Additional information on the transmission, symptoms and complications of the coronavirus, as well as its prevention and treatment, can be found here and here.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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One response to “How Campuses Can Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak”

  1. MWallis says:

    This was a nice article. But using your research about another virus to apply to this one is very passive. Please do more research.

    The #9 certainly is false. Providers wear N95s, it works for them. Why advice people not to buy/wear them? I understand it might have some psychological effect for people to see others wearing masks outside medical facilities, but if you consider your readers your family, especially the ones that have health issues, what advice will you give?

    Definitely wear a mask when you suspect yourself coming down with respiratory illness. If those who are ill refuse to wear masks? You can only control you.

    So you should wear mask as part of prevention. Along with washing your hands, eating healthy, sleeping enough, take vitamins, make sure you’re updated on your vaccine and follow the news and advice from CDC.

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