Email to Faculty-Staff on Coronavirus
Members of the college’s administration, faculty and staff met Thursday to discuss the efforts we can take as a college community to plan, prevent and prepare for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We’ve consulted with both Essex County and Franklin County Public Health on the subject, and Mim Millar, an infection prevention specialist with Adirondack Health, shared some very valuable guidance and advice for the college during the meeting.
Additionally, following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York, Joe participated in a conference call this morning with the SUNY Chancellor, college and university presidents, and the state Department of Health. And SUNY will be hosting a COVID-19 webinar today that several members of the faculty, staff and administration will participate in.
Below are the steps we are taking next, along with several steps we’d ask you all to take, to help prevent the spread of this and any other respiratory illness.
STEPS WE’RE TAKING
Allied Health programs: Considering many students in these programs are present in the region’s health care facilities, faculty are being asked to review in class the preventative measures students should be practicing: frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, sneezing and coughing into the arm instead of the hand, use of personal protective equipment like masks when necessary, distancing yourself from anyone who is sick, and cleaning and disinfecting surface areas where germs may be present.
Association/Residence Halls/Student Life:
- We will supply students with cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, Lysol etc.) and provide recommendations for cleaning rooms and common areas.
- We are inviting Adirondack Health’s infection prevention specialist, Mim Millar, to present to students, particularly before spring break.
- We will engage students with some creative activities to encourage handwashing and other preventative steps.
- We will post flyers about preventative measures and make hand sanitizer available at all campus entrances and exits.
- We will provide disinfecting wipes/Lysol for all classrooms and computer labs, library, and LACs, and we will encourage students, faculty and staff to wipe down keyboards and common areas regularly.
- We will direct cleaning staff to disinfect desks and computer keyboards, door handles and knobs, light switches.
- We will work to provide tissues in classrooms and other areas students use frequently.
- We will use the college’s website, social media and email to communicate to faculty, staff and students the steps they can take to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses.
- We will issue a press release to the news media to notify parents and the community of the steps the college is taking to plan, prepare for and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
As with any communicable illness, there are preventive measures everyone can take to help reduce their risk of becoming sick. We’d ask you to practice these measures and share them with your students and co-workers:
- Wash your hands often. Honestly, it is hard to overdo it, especially during flu season: Wet, lather, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry. Consider keeping an alcohol-based hand sanitizer around for those times when soap and water might not be readily available. Additional information can be found on the CDC’s website (www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html).
- If you can avoid it, don’t touch your face. And, if you must touch your face, wash your hands immediately before doing so. Mucus membranes on your face are the openings through which respiratory infections enter your body.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into your sleeve. Then wash your hands anyway.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Prepare for home isolation. If you come down with any kind of illness, often defined by a fever and any other symptom, stay home and call your health-care provider. Keep a supply of food, water, a thermometer, and medications on hand in case you become sick and cannot travel to obtain needed items.
These are the first steps in our planning process. We have scheduled a meeting again this week to discuss what the college would do in the event a student, faculty or staff member was found to be symptomatic and/or diagnosed, or if a full outbreak of COVID-19 were to occur.
The situation is rapidly evolving, and there is just one confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the state; however, the college will remain ready to respond appropriately. We will continue to work with and follow guidance from SUNY, state and local health officials and our health care partners in the region to promote necessary measures to protect the health of the college community and the public.
Chris Knight, Director of Communications
Office: Hodson Hall, Room 126 | 23 Santanoni Ave., Saranac Lake campus
Mailing address: PO Box 89, Saranac Lake, NY 12983