Dear URI students,
As you prepare to leave campus for Spring Break, I write to provide you with information related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and potential impacts it could have on those who are planning to travel domestically and internationally during the coming week.
Since January, a URI team has been meeting regularly to monitor the evolving situation and prepare for potential impacts on the University community. COVID-19 (coronavirus) is now confirmed in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, with the bulk of these cases in China. However, there are a number of countries where the spread of the virus has increased significantly during the past week, including South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, and Hong Kong. Governments in these affected areas are taking swift and, in some cases, unexpected actions to contain the virus. Their efforts can have significant effects on travelers, including restricted travel, quarantines, and canceled transportation options.
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new travel advisories regarding coronavirus, as well as special advisories for South Korea, Italy, and Iran. I strongly encourage all students who plan to travel to these areas to check official information about possible impacts from the source listed below:
- U.S. Department of State travel advisories
- CDC travel advisories
- CDC COVID-19 page
- World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 page
The University strongly recommends not traveling to locations with CDC or Department of State Level 3 alerts or higher. All international travelers are putting themselves at an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus disease. This potential exposure can be compounded by unexpected delays and cumbersome logistics upon returning to the U.S., including the potential for missed classes due to self-isolation. We urge all members of the URI community to consider their risks when deciding whether to move forward with their travel plans.
It is important to note there have been no reported cases of coronavirus on the URI campus. However, Rhode Island has one confirmed case and another presumptive positive case in the state, both following international travel to Europe. We will continue to monitor the situation and stay in close contact with our educational partners abroad, government officials, and colleagues at other institutions. Our Office of International Education is in regular communication with students studying abroad this semester and will work with them to adjust their study plans if needed.
Regardless of your travel plans, to keep yourself and the community healthy, the CDC recommends the following practices:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and warm water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
- Do not share utensils, water bottles, or other personal items. Many germs that cause viral illness are spread through saliva.
- Wipe down common items like phones, keyboards, doorknobs, and railings with a disinfectant.
- Do not travel if you are sick. If you have a reoccurring fever, and/or difficulty breathing, seek medical care.
The health and well-being of the URI community is our top priority. Our facilities staff continue their efforts to clean common areas on campus with disinfectants, as they do each year during flu season, and our University Health Services staff are available to assist students with their health and wellness needs. You can stay informed on matters related to the coronavirus by visiting the University’s COVID-19 website.
We wish you safe travels, and hope you have an enjoyable, safe and healthy Spring Break.
Dr. Kathy Collins