As we have seen over the last few days and as more information becomes available on the novel coronavirus, it is becoming increasingly important to share messages that encourage self-monitoring, self-quarantine and self-isolation depending on one’s individual risks. The Emergency Operations Team continues to meet and share information and communication, and has been working around the clock to support efforts to keep you all protected. This has been a challenging time, and we need to continue to rally as a community to support one another.
We know that a small number of individuals are reporting symptoms that appear to be COVID-19 but are without laboratory test confirmation, instead receiving a “clinical diagnosis.” Their health-care providers are advising them to self-isolate and manage their symptoms. These numbers will continue to grow, and you can do your part to protect yourself by employing physical distancing. Some of you may be worried that you’ve been, or will be exposed—and if so, how you will know.
Guidance from the University system indicates that if someone on campus has symptoms of COVID-19 but has not had a laboratory-confirmed case, we should assume that the individual has COVID-19 and should isolate themselves, and their close contacts should quarantine for at least 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms. Student Health has — and will continue to — interview people diagnosed with COVID-19 to develop a list of close contacts, and directly communicate with those individuals. Close contacts are people who were within six feet, 2-3 days before symptoms.
There is no need for a broader announcement about asymptomatic individuals to the university community, the individual’s entire department, or an entire building. Such notices violate individuals’ privacy and may unnecessarily increase panic or anxiety to those who were unlikely to have had close contact, as well as potentially providing some with a false sense of security.
If you do not need to be on campus you should be at home, monitoring your health and providing support via remote opportunities if you are able. Check your email and phone messages and find ways to support one another during these next weeks.
President Carter has led efforts to provide flexibility in work arrangements and support you in your decisions to responsibly care for your families and your own health. You received word yesterday that he is increasing from 80 hours to 160 hours of leave to full-time personnel to use – prorated for part-time. There also are ways to donate and receive crisis leave. We have taken incremental steps to minimize our risks to travelers and students following spring break, and in the residence halls, while balancing our responsibility to continue students’ education.
A reminder that a website exists that has information, links, updates, policies and guidance to help you, all in one spot: unk.edu/coronavirus. Please email me if you have questions, and I will ask our EOT or other individuals to respond.
You have done such tremendous work in adapting and accommodating your teaching and student supports, including some great examples of community outreach, and I thank you. We are not our best without you, so continue to stay safe and healthy as you are able.
Douglas A. Kristensen, J.D.