Dear Staff and Students of Gwinnett College, Gwinnett Institute, and Meridian College,
The leadership team at the College is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak via the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the Florida Department of Health (FDH), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus and protocols around it are changing quickly, and we are working to mitigate any impact on our students and staff.
According to the CDC, this virus is very limited (104 known cases on March 3, 2020) in the United States, and the immediate health risk from coronavirus remains low. However, as global cases rise and the virus continues to spread in more and more countries, the risk for a pandemic is elevated and more likely to occur.
We ask all students and staff who have a fever, symptoms of a respiratory infection, or have been exposed to a person with a coronavirus, the flu or any other communicable disease to speak with your Campus Director. We will be posting signs in our offices, asking screening questions, and following CDC recommendations for screening and management of patients. If you are at all concerned you may have a serious infectious disease, your best course of action is to seek care at your primary care physician’s office or local hospital’s emergency department.
Please remember that the best way to prevent the spread of communicable disease is cleanliness and hand washing. There is still quite a bit of influenza activity in the US which is still more likely to cause serious illness than the coronavirus. If you have not yet received a flu shot, it is not too late and is still being recommended by the CDC.
Again, this is an evolving situation, and we will be closely monitoring it and providing our students and staff with updates as well as posting on our website. We are doing everything we can to keep our students and staff healthy.
What is the Coronavirus?
- A virus that causes diseases of varying severities, ranging from the common cold to serious respiratory disease
How does it spread?
- Between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet)
- Cough or sneeze droplets
- Touching your eyes, nose, or face with hands after touching an object containing the virus
What are the symptoms?
- Shortness of breath
- Severe Illness
How do you protect yourself?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, scrub thoroughly under nails and between fingers, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
It is important to keep children home from school when
they are ill. If you child has any of the
following symptoms please keep them home from school: temperature, coughing,
committing, diarrhea, and rash not yet diagnosed by a physician, red or pink
itchy eye, and/or drainage from eye, and any contagious illness such as
chickenpox, strep throat or flu.
Faculty and Staff,
In order to maintain the safety and reduce the spread of germs within your respective Campus, the Administration is asking for assistance in the following;
- Encourage the ongoing use of the restrooms to wash hands and encourage correct handwashing techniques (see following page titled CDC – Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives).
- Encourage the use of hand sanitizers located in various locations throughout each campus if students are unable to wash hands.
If students are unable to come to class due to respiratory illness, students must document these circumstances through letters from their physicians. These letters should state dates of classes missed and when the student is allowed to return to the Campus.
If students have missed due to a respiratory illness, allow the students the opportunity to provide their work to you in a way that will give credit for work. Examples of this are scanning and emailing digital homework, taking pictures of homework and emailing them to you at your official Gwinnett College/Meridian College email addresses, or other ways that you deem to be acceptable in your professional opinions. You must remind students that if no documentation of a respiratory illness (see above paragraph) is provided, these items will not be accepted for a grade. If students are presenting signs of respiratory illness, please send the student home as quickly as possible.
Many of our campuses already use online portals or learning management systems to interact outside of normal class hours with their students. We have begun to move to formalize this across all our campuses and will have conversations with each campus to ensure we are able to continue to deliver material to our students through potential interruptions. We are already working with campus directors and will communicate additional information on this in the coming days.
Last, please help sanitize the classroom. This should happen
after last class for the day students as well as the last class for the night
students. Bottles of cleaning solution will be provided. If the cleaning
solution is empty, then fill the bottles by following the directions on the
bottle of water:solution. All frequently touched surfaces shall be cleaned,
including classroom tables, workstations, counters, and doorknobs.
To Our Students,
If you have a respiratory illness, we encourage you to stay home so as not to further spread the disease. You will need to monitor your days missed, and if attendance-based withdrawals become realistic for you, we will work with you as long as you are able to provide documentation from a physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner who have the abilities to diagnose respiratory illnesses. Stay in contact, via phone or email, with your campus to ensure that assignments can be completed and turned in for credit as expeditiously as possible.
Please continue to wash your hands, whether at the Campus, at home, or when in public, as per the guidelines from the CDC on the following page. Within the coming week, the College will provide to you small, portable bottles of hand sanitizer to keep with you. These will be able to be refilled, so please buy larger bottles to keep at home and refill when needed.
As always, if you have a question or need help, call!
Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
How to use hand sanitizer
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
CDC – Handwashing: Clean Hands Saves Lives
Florida Department of Health
Georgia Department of Public Health
Interim Guidance from the CDC for Institutions of Higher
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
World Health Organization
Bureau of Consular Affairs