Feb. 26 Message to Campus: Updates on coronavirus and travel

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

We write today to update you regarding steps the university is taking in response to recent developments regarding the spread of COVID-19 (the name the World Health Organization has given the novel coronavirus).

This message addresses the following issues:

I. Returned Traveler Reporting

II. Travel Restrictions

III. Voluntary Travel Registration

IV. University Preparations

I. Returned Traveler Reporting

The university will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance regarding travel abroad. In recent days, the CDC has raised South Korea to Level 3 Warning Status: Avoid All Non-Essential Travel; China continues to be in this category as well. Per the protocol announced Feb. 1, all individuals returning from China—and now, any country under Level 3 warning status—are required to submit this form at least three days before returning to campus.

II. Travel Restrictions

On Jan. 30, we outlined the interim approval process for faculty and staff contemplating university-related travel to China; this process now applies to any country classified Level 3.

So far this week, the CDC has raised Iran, Italy and Japan to Level 2 Warning Status: Practice Enhanced Precautions

Given the rapidly evolving nature of this outbreak, the campus community should be aware that any of these countries, or others not yet in the news, could be placed on Level 3 status at any time—and on short notice. At this time, we cannot predict whether individuals in Level 3 designated countries will be required to be quarantined for a period of time after entering the U.S.—or denied entry altogether.

If you are considering travel to a country the CDC designates as Level 2, we encourage you to check the CDC’s travel advisories page regularly and seriously consider avoiding non-essential travel to such locations.

III. Voluntary Travel Registration

In light of the profound uncertainty regarding the spread of COVID-19 worldwide and the rapid approach of spring break, we ask members of the campus community going abroad for any reason to register that travel with the university.

Choosing to do so is entirely voluntary; we are requesting this information in the event that the university needs to update you regarding potential developments and options that could affect your travel plans—including your ability to return to campus or to enter the United States.

Faculty and staff planning travel outside the U.S. are encouraged to complete the registration form at least three days prior to departure.

Students traveling internationally who are not participating in university study abroad programs are asked to provide their information to the Office of Education Abroad via this form.

You can see the most recent COVID-19-related travel advisories on the CDC website.

IV. University Preparations

While the CDC continues to emphasize that the health risk of COVID-19 for people in the U.S. right now is low, yesterday (Feb. 25) one of its top officials said that it is likely that at some point the virus will reach communities in this country.

The university does have plans in place should events require a temporary interruption of classes and/or broader university operations. We are refining those protocols now to address the specific nature of this potential outbreak; at the same time, we are expanding them to address the possibility of disruption that lasts beyond a brief period of time. 

We will continue to update you regarding those efforts, as well as other developments involving this global health concern. Meanwhile, to see previous updates, please visit the COVID-19 page on the University Health and Counseling Services website.

Carolyn Gregory
Vice President for Human Resources

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs