Dear faculty, staff and students,
St. Cloud State University and the Minnesota State system office are closely following developments related to the international spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This situation is receiving the highest level of attention on our campus and within the Minnesota State system leadership.
I am having regular, ongoing conversations with SCSU’s Emergency Operations Committee and others to ensure we are doing everything we can to plan and prepare to limit exposure and lower risk. Both the Minnesota State system leadership and our local team are engaging experts inside and outside the university, including the Minnesota Department of Public Health and Environment, Stearns County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to get the latest information and recommendations.
The Minnesota Department of Health is not recommending discontinuing in-person classes and events at this time.
Provost Dan Gregory in coordination with Faculty Association President Kayona Frances communicated plans with faculty this morning for how we will continue to offer courses should we need to cancel in-person classes if the spread of the virus continues to worsen and impact our community. There are presumptive cases of COVID-19 reported in the state by the Minnesota Department of Health; none in Stearns County. In-person classes have been canceled at the University of Minnesota, and we are not alone in preparing should the need arise in St. Cloud.
It is extremely important that campus remains engaged. Expect campus emails regularly and check the website for updates.
In coordination with Medical Director Brent Nielsen, these important updates below will summarize some of the actions we want campus to be aware of.
As students, faculty and staff return from Spring Break, CDC recommends that travelers returning from regions with widespread and ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries) should stay home for a period of 14 days from the date they left that country. If you have questions regarding exposure as a result of travel, Minnesota Department of Health asks you to call 651-201-5414 or 877-676-5414 for guidance.
What to do if you are sick
The two key messages here are stay home when sick and call ahead for guidance on where to get appropriate care. This applies to students, as well as faculty and staff.
For on Campus Students: St. Cloud State Medical Clinic will move to a phone triage system for sick persons in the coming week. When students have illness symptoms, we do not want them to walk right into the clinic, call 320-308-3199 first for guidance.
For faculty, staff and students: CentraCare also has a community resource for faculty, staff or students to speak with a nurse 24/7 at 320-200-3200. This will help to prevent the spread of illness and allow medical professionals to prepare and give proper guidance on where will be the appropriate place for care.
Recovering at home will be the main message for healthy persons with mild symptoms. For those with underlying health conditions and/or more than mild symptoms, guidance will be provided for those who may need more evaluation or testing as part of the triage call.
As stated above, it is important that both sick persons, or those with possible exposure to stay home. We encourage flexible attendance and sick leave support for students and staff who need to stay home or are asked by public health officials to stay home for 14 days
Update your Star Alert information
Should the University need to close or cancel in-person classes, Star Alert is our emergency communications platform. In addition to sending an email to your St. Cloud State email, Star Alert also sends messages to additional supplemental email accounts and text messages to your cell phone. Please log in and make sure your information is up-to-date.
While we are addressing the issue at hand, we are also taking the long view and planning for dealing with it in the weeks and months ahead. We are prepared for a fast-moving and ever-evolving situation.
St. Cloud State is a large and interconnected community with robust international activities. I am proud of how our SCSU team has responded and continues to prepare to ensure our faculty, staff and students are safe. We will keep you apprised of developments.
Robbyn R. Wacker