Pacific University Coronavirus Situation Update | March 6, 2020
Pacific continues to closely monitor the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, a coronavirus, in the United States and globally. We are committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, employees and communities, as well as to their continued academic success.
We have two response teams meeting frequently to consider changes to conditions and potential responses from Pacific. We will communicate any updates to process or procedure by email and at pacificu.edu/coronavirus.
The following are the latest updates to Pacific operations and resources in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
What About My Clinical Placement?
Many students in our health professional programs, particularly at the graduate and professional level, are assigned to clinical placements around the country and internationally.
Students who are currently attending clinical education at an international site are advised to continue as scheduled. We are in close contact with any students at international sites associated with higher risk of exposure.
Programs have been advised to make alternative arrangements for students with upcoming placements in countries with Level 2 or Level 3 CDC travel alerts. Students will not be allowed to begin new placements in these countries while alerts are active.
We have no restrictions on domestic clinical placements at this time.
Can We Still Study Abroad?
We also are monitoring CDC and State Department travel advisories in relation to our students studying abroad in non-clinical placements. Our concerns are for the health and safety of students, their ability to return home if travel restrictions change, and their academic progress.
Last week, we canceled a debate team trip to Japan. As of Friday, we have made no additional changes regarding study abroad and travel courses. We continue to watch the evolving situation closely.
Do I Need to Stay Home?
Reports of people in quarantine may, understandably, cause alarm. It may be helpful to understand that there are specific guidelines for when quarantine or isolation is needed. (No one is quarantined on a Pacific campus.)
Only people who have had high- or medium-risk exposures to someone with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection are placed on quarantine or advised to limit public exposure. High- or medium-risk exposures mean close, sustained contact, such as living with or being the intimate partner of someone with the virus or providing home healthcare for someone with the virus. Casual contact with a symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed case, such as being in the same classroom or waiting room, are considered low-risk exposures, and there is no immediate risk in exposure to someone without symptoms or confirmed infection.
What If Things Change?
On Friday, some universities in King County, Washington, announced plans to temporarily halt in-person courses. Pacific has no immediate plans to close our campuses. There are only three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon and no evidence that people are at higher risk on campus than elsewhere in the community.
We are, however, preparing our systems to ensure that courses could continue remotely if needed. The Center for Educational Technology and Curriculum Innovation has resources for faculty members to learn about remote delivery of curriculum, which may be appropriate in a number of situations, including weather-related disruptions.
So What Do I Do Now?
Continue to follow the CDC’s prevention guidelines.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Disinfect high-touch objects.
- Wash your hands well and often.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
Stay calm. The CDC reports that most people in the United States have little immediate exposure to the virus. Most people who are sneezing or coughing likely have a cold or the flu. Most people who do contract the COVID-19 will have a mild case.
“Choose facts over fear,” advises Matt Town, Pacific public health faculty member and epidemiologist. “And safeguard from panic and stigma.”
Stay up to date with Pacific’s latest resources and information at pacificu.edu/coronavirus.