Statement regarding coronavirus

The original post was updated on February 4, February 10  and February 14 with additional information sent to the Wheaton campus community.

As the health and safety of our campus community is paramount, Wheaton College officials are closely monitoring the developments regarding the coronavirus (2019-nCoV), have provided advice regarding healthy practices and will continue to keep the campus community updated.

There are no Wheaton College students who reside in Wuhan nor are there any students currently studying abroad in China for the spring semester. All of our Chinese students returned to campus or were at their study abroad location before travel out of China became restricted. There are no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus at Wheaton.

On January 22 and February 4, 2020, our associate director of health services sent out email advisories to the entire campus community, including staff, faculty and students, reminding them about flu season and informing them about the ongoing outbreak of pneumonia first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel coronavirus. Students were also emailed a reminder on January 27 and February 14, 2020. The advisories provided links to information about the virus, travel notices provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State, the World Health Organization’s public advice, and a link to Wheaton’s flu advisory pages. The advisories also provided guidance on what to do if you have been in close contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of 2019-nCoV and what you should do if you develop respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of travel to mainland China.

Another reminder on the travel advisories were communicated from our dean for global education on February 10, 2020 to staff, faculty and students. Per Wheaton’s Travel Advisory Policy and based on the State Department’s reclassification, China is now considered a no-travel zone. At this time, the college’s guidelines on travel to China are as follows: No Wheaton faculty, staff or students will be permitted to travel to China under the auspices of Wheaton College, whether it be a for-credit program, work-related and/or financed by the college. We strongly recommend deferring other types of travel (leisure, personal interest) to affected areas for the foreseeable future.

Norton Medical Center providers and Wheaton College’s associate director of health services are receiving constant updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding guidance on clinical signs and symptoms, infection prevention and control recommendations, and travel updates.

Tips for avoiding the flu and other illnesses have been offered to the campus community, including getting a flu shot; frequently washing or sanitizing hands; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve; cleaning things that are touched often, such as keyboards and phones; staying home if you’re sick; and avoiding close contact with others who are sick.  Wheaton also offers students who are ill an opportunity to take advantage of the Meal Plan Pick-up Program provided by Dining Services.