March 4, 2020 - Important update on the coronavirus

Dear University Community,

While there are currently no reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Missouri and the immediate health risk is considered low at this time, it is important that we are all proactive in ensuring the health and safety of our community.

Below, I have outlined recent developments and several important updates that affect our faculty, staff and students.

Travel Prohibitions: UMSL is prohibiting university-sponsored travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, which are CDC Warning Level 3 countries. Additionally, we are limiting travel to Japan on a case-by-case basis given its ongoing CDC Alert Level 2 status. That includes suspending study abroad programs to Japan for the spring semester. More travel prohibitions are expected should federal agencies post travel health notices for additional countries.

International Travel Registration: Effective immediately, all UMSL students and employees are required to register their university-related travel outside of the United States. Please view our student registration and faculty/staff registration pages for details. Although not required, we also recommend that students and employees register their personal travel outside of the U.S. as well. In doing so, we will better be able to contact you should a change in travel health notices affect your stay or return. Beyond international travel, you should also monitor domestic travel within the U.S. and weigh the risk of travel to areas where cases have been confirmed.

Campus Restrictions: On a case-by-case basis, the university may ask students or employees to avoid coming to campus for a period of two weeks upon return from travel to high-risk areas including CDC Level 2 and 3 countries. Restricting activities outside of home, except for getting medical care, will help limit the potential of transmitting disease. Should this be requested, the university will make every effort to ensure that students may continue their studies and that employees may continue their service through online, email, voice and video alternatives.

Facilities: Facilities Management will follow recommendations based on existing CDC infection control guidance including routine surface cleaning, installation of hand sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas of campus, and ensuring restrooms have an adequate supply of hand soap. They are also adding new signage for proper hand washing in restrooms throughout campus. Within your own office, residence hall or workspace, you can also help by frequently cleaning surfaces whether with soap and water or with an EPA approved disinfectant.

Disease Avoidance: Preventive measures for COVID-19 are similar to those for avoiding the flu, including: washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding sharing personal household items; and cleaning all high-touch surfaces every day with a household cleaning spray or wipes.

Medical Care: Like any illness, if you are feeling sick, you should remain at home and contact your healthcare provider before visiting your doctor. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, this will help your healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from being infected or exposed. Again, for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.  

Preparedness: UMSL continues to work with county and state health officials to monitor conditions here in Missouri as well as following federal guidelines and CDC best practices. UMSL administrators are engaged in weekly conversations with experts across all four universities in the University of Missouri System focused on coronavirus prevention and response. UMSL administrators will be conducting a workshop exercise to help operationalize our preparedness and response plans to this rapidly evolving situation. This will include UM Emergency Manager Mark Diedrich, UMSL Student Health Officer Chris Sullivan and representatives from the St. Louis County Emergency Management Agency and the St. Louis County Health Department.

The steps above represent just a few key guidelines and recommendations that will help keep our community safe. However, we are also working across campus in many other ways to address the coronavirus. Student Affairs is communicating with students about the coronavirus, healthy hygiene and student health services available on campus. A new webpage has been developed with key facts and resources and is now available on the Health, Counseling and Disability Access Services website. Additionally, UMSL Global staff members are working closely with our international students, study abroad participants and faculty scholars to ensure their safety and security.

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to make decisions to proactively support the health and well-being of our community. We continue to share our support to all those affected by the virus and will provide additional information and guidance as the situation evolves.

Sincerely,

Kristin Sobolik
Interim Chancellor and Provost

Additional Resources

  • Student health services: Health Services – 314-516-5671
  • Student services and support: Student Affairs – 314-516-5211
  • International student services/study abroad: UMSL Global – 314-516-5753
  • Questions regarding university-sponsored travel: Faculty: Academic Affairs – 314-516-5371, Staff: Human Resources – 314-516-5805
  • Equal employment/educational opportunity: Human Resources – 314-516-4538
  • Guideline on student or other participant international travel or study abroad: CRR 210.070
  • Faculty and staff insurance for authorized international business travel
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) international travel alert program