March 7: A Message from President Quillen

On Monday, we begin classes after spring break, and this coincides with heightened global concern about the spread of COVID-19. The following describes ongoing campus preparations and how each of you can help to safeguard your health and that of our community.  

This coronavirus presents us with a rapidly evolving situation, and our guidance to you may change as the Centers for Disease Control and other experts provide us with updates. We will share the information we receive as quickly and as clearly as possible. 

Davidson is a mission-driven community, and I and the leadership team strive to ground decision-making in shared values: respect for the inherent dignity of all human beings, a commitment to the quest for truth, and attention to the needs of others, especially those who in this situation are most vulnerable.

Our Shared Obligations

At this time, each of us has a heightened obligation to safeguard our own health and the health of our community. Everyone can help by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  If those aren’t available, use hand sanitizer. CDC has detailed recommendations about handwashing.
  • Please do not move or take the hand sanitizer containers that our staff have placed in public places. These are there for all of us. Use them, but please do not take them.
  • Avoid shaking hands. Wave or forearm bump (or just say hello).
  • Don’t share food utensils, straws or drink from the same glass.
  • Avoid frequently touching your face (we do this 23 times an hour).
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Put used tissues in the trash.
  • If you have symptoms of a cold or the flu (fever, cough, sneezing, shortness of breath) stay home, get rest, and contact your doctor or Davidson’s Center for Student Health and Well-Being.
  • Encourage others with symptoms to stay home. Davidson people are conscientious and dedicated, so their instinct is to go to class or work or practice, but please encourage them to stay home or in their rooms when sick. 
  • If you have chronic or underlying health conditions, please consult your health care provider about any additional precautions you should take.
  • Consider the needs of populations with heightened health concerns (the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions, and people with limited access to resources) in your own decision-making.
  • If you know of someone in our community who needs help or is suffering because of this situation, please tell the Dean of Students Office, your chair, manager, Human Resources or me.
  • In situations like this, bigotry and discrimination can thrive. Stand up to it when you see it. Turn fear into constructive action by embracing our shared obligations.
  • Professors, Coaches, Mentors: Your students will listen to you. Please remind them to take care of their health, stay in their rooms and contact Student Health and Well-Being if they feel sick, and please make accommodations for their absence. Thank you for your help. 

If you take away one thing from these guidelines: We all need to think and operate a little differently, from the routine – for example, no handshaking – because the small actions we take, like frequently washing our hands, help to safeguard the health of our students, colleagues, friends and mentors.

The Current Situatio

As with new viruses in the past, COVID-19 does not respect borders. The news stories that you see chronicle its impact. 

Institutions of higher education are addressing the situation in different ways, depending on factors such as their size, whether they house vulnerable populations (e.g. hospital patients), location and the epidemiological situation there, and scope of presence in other countries. We have made some adjustments to the ways that the college operates, and we will continue to adjust as circumstances and guidance from public health experts changes. 

We need your support, your help and your good sense as we go.

Actions The College Has Taken

On campus, leadership continues to monitor guidance from federal, state and local public health experts. We have a leadership group (Ann McCorvey, Sarah Phillips, Philip Jefferson, Byron McCrae, Mark Johnson and me) that is coordinating the work of small task forces. Thus far:  

  • Residence Life staff have mapped out protocols for different scenarios, including potential cases on campus.
  • Student Life staff in collaboration with others have tentatively determined our capacity for social distancing, isolation, and quarantine.
  • Finance and Administration, Academic Affairs, and T&I staff in collaboration with the senior leadership team have developed preliminary plans for business continuity, including expanded video link capacity and who can work from home. 
  • Human Resources has posted guidance for managers on Inside Davidson, assisting with topics such as sick leave and self-isolation, if diagnosed. 
  • The Facilities team has disinfected all public areas of the campus and is installing more hand sanitizer dispensers.
  • The Center for Health and Well-Being staff have been following federal protocols and plans for several weeks and its staff members have participated in task force planning.

Travel, Conferences and Large Gatherings

We will not support travel by anyone to a location for which the CDC has issued a Level-3 alert. We will not approve or fund student travel to a Level-2 location. Faculty planning travel to a Level-2 location must first confer with the Vice President for Academic Affairs. These steps are based on our ability to help you should circumstances change and our desire to safeguard the health of the campus. 

Faculty members who plan to travel to other international locations should take the precautions listed above under “our shared obligations.” In addition, we ask that you consider the circumstances in your destination and your specific risk with respect to this virus (e.g. underlying medical conditions), and weigh these against the urgency of your trip. CDC has posted a risk assessment map that you may find helpful.  

We are not asking faculty and staff to cancel domestic travel, but we ask that you consider the circumstances in your destination, your personal risk with respect to this virus (e.g. underlying health conditions), and the time sensitivity of your trip. If you are scheduled to travel for college business and are uncomfortable doing that, please talk with your manager. 

If you travel, please be especially attentive. Personally when I fly, I follow advice I got a long time ago during flu season: I wipe my plane seat, arms and tray with a Clorox wipe.

As of now, we have not cancelled public events, but we will continue to evaluate them and encourage participants to be vigilant about their own health and how it affects those around them.

If you are planning to attend a conference or large gathering, please consider: the local circumstances, the size and reach of the gathering (larger gatherings that draw globally pose a greater risk), your personal risk with respect to this virus, the importance of the conference to your professional life, and whether the conference organizers are taking appropriate precautions. As always, follow the “shared obligations” listed above.

With respect to conference attendance by students, we want to be cautious while also acknowledging the educational value of their participation. Given the rapidly evolving nature of this situation, we will, for the time being, evaluate this on a case by case basis. If you’re taking students to a conference within the next month, please consider the circumstances above and confer with Fuji Lozada. 

Where To Go For Additional Information

Here are several places you can go to for answers to common questions, and, as always, please reach out to us with your concerns:

At times like this, I’m deeply thankful to be in a genuinely caring community. Thank you for working together to look out for each other and our students.

Return to Top

March 5: COVID-19 and Returning to Campus after Spring Break

Classmates and colleagues are returning to campus this weekend after spring break, many of whom traveled across the country and, some, overseas. The college’s leadership team continues to monitor and follow the guidance from the government’s experts on public health and infectious disease, particularly around coronavirus (COVID-19). This is an evolving situation affecting countries around the globe, and we will adjust our guidelines and actions as the circumstances change. 

We wanted to provide some brief answers to questions you may have:

Should we start wearing masks?
The North Carolina Department of Health Human Services cautions that masks are recommended for use by sick people to prevent the spread of the disease, not by people who are well.

Is my study abroad program going to be cancelled?
Please see the guidance in the March 3 and February 27 messages below.

I am returning from a foreign trip.  What should I do?
There were no Davidson-led spring break trips to areas to which the Centers for Disease Control have applied a Level 3 alert (China, Iran, Italy, Korea), nor did any individuals register with travel to such an area. If you did travel to an area under one of those alerts, the CDC is recommending you stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with the Level 3 Travel Health Notice.  Please reach out to Health & Well-Being, and the college will work with you on living arrangements and class obligations. 

How do I keep from getting sick?
The greatest risk right now remains the flu, and the preventive measures for the flu are equally helpful in preventing COVID-19, specifically:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.  Be mindful of when your hands touch a public surface and should be washed.
  • Avoid touching your face. (A 2015 study found that participants did this 23 times an hour.)
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, either with a tissue or into your elbow.
  • Don’t share food, drinks, cigarettes or vapes, and other items that touch your mouth or nose.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well and contact Health and Well-Being about a fever (100.4F/38C or higher), cough or shortness of breath.

I’m a student and I don’t feel well. What should I do?

  • Contact Health and Well-Being
  • Contact your professors for accommodations
  • Take care of yourself:  get rest, food and any medicines that you need

My roommate is returning from an overseas trip. What should I do?

  • If your roommate was in an affected area, please encourage them to contact Health & Well-Being and follow CDC guidance.      
  • If your roommate was not in an affected are, you both should follow the preventive steps outlined above and watch for any symptoms.

My roommate or friend is ill, and I’m worried.  What should I do?
Please encourage them to contact Health & Well-Being.

Are you cancelling campus events, like concerts or games, and, if not, should I attend them?
The CDC’s guidance right now is that the risk of COVID-19 to the general population remains low. The college has not cancelled any campus-wide events at this time. Individuals who show no symptoms can still attend and participate. Any updates regarding the college’s response to COVID-19 will be shared on this webpage.

What kind of preventive measures is the college taking?
We are monitoring updates from the government’s experts in public health and infectious disease, such as the CDC, and implementing best practices distributed by the American College Health Association and county health department. Our facilities and physical plant teams this week are disinfecting classrooms and other facilities, including railings and door handles. Our working groups are developing an action plan should any ill students need to be isolated. Specific units such as athletics, residence life, human resources (for employee health), and many others are also putting specific protocols in place.

Where should I go for more information?
The CDC and NCDHHS both provide robust web pages with information about COVID-19; this webpage provides college-specific information.

So far the locations with enough reported COVID-19 cases to merit travel warnings all have been in foreign countries, but we encourage you to pay attention to reports on confirmed cases in the United States. The one confirmed case in North Carolina to this point involved a visit to Washington state, where there were several reported cases.

Return to Top

March 3: Impact on International Programs

Davidson College and other colleges and universities are making decisions regarding international programs and travel, and we wanted to share some information about how those decisions are made.

We are guided by our responsibility to guard the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We consult and follow the guidance from the government’s experts on public health and infectious disease at the CDC and from the U.S. State Department.  

Davidson will not continue any program in, or send any students to, an area to which the CDC has applied a Level 3 alert. Before the semester began, we helped two students scheduled to study in China make alternate plans. Last week we cancelled a spring break trip to Italy, which was then at alert level 2, out of an abundance of caution. The CDC since raised it to Level 3. We continue to evaluate international travel in light of evolving circumstances.

Currently we have no Davidson-led semester international programs running. We do have several students participating in programs managed by other institutions. Four students who had been studying on such programs in Italy, and one in Japan, will finish their semesters in the United States as directed by their program provider. 

We continue to consult with our international partner programs about students studying this semester and those who plan to study in the summer or fall.  We will make any adjustments necessary as circumstances change. This is an evolving global situation, and as the circumstances change, so will our guidelines and actions. 

We will work with affected students and our program providers to help facilitate program completion or assist in identifying alternate programs if our students’ international programs are cancelled or if they are forced to return home.

We have taken all possible proactive steps on campus, including plans and protocols that follow CDC guidance.   

Students should feel free to consult with their partner program liaison with any questions, and Davidson staff remain accessible to discuss individual concerns.

Return to Top