On February 19 a Special Committee was appointed to monitor events related to the Coronavirus outbreak. They informed the campus community of its charge to make recommendations promoting the safety and well-being of our students and our entire campus community. Faculty, staff, and students are asked to self-report any travel scheduled between now and May 31, 2020, using the survey found here. The committee was aware that members of our community had planned to travel on college-sanctioned trips to Taiwan and the U.S. Virgin Islands to serve others.

Trip Sanctions Withdrawn
After carefully monitoring this rapidly evolving situation, the Special Committee recommended, and President Pinson approved, postponement or cancellation of international travel until the Coronavirus situation improves. Thus we regret to inform our campus community that, as a result of this serious international phenomenon, Welch College will not sanction originally scheduled spring break trips to Taiwan or the U.S. Virgin Islands. We are working with Taiwan and U.S. Virgin Island team members to assess the feasibility of rescheduling trips in the future and, if desired, facilitating local service opportunities during the upcoming break as an alternative. Funds received by Welch College for these trips will be held to support future service opportunities.

Self-Quarantine Measures
We understand that some individuals plan to travel independently (i.e. whether individually or with other groups not under Welch College oversight). While we recognize our inability to alter such plans, it is important that those individuals conduct careful research to make informed personal decisions. Furthermore, and upon the explicit recommendation of members of the local medical community, anyone who chooses to proceed with independent travel to international areas with community spread of the Coronavirus and/or areas under U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerts or warnings, will be required to self-quarantine for at least 14 days prior to returning to Welch College to complete the spring semester.

The decision to cancel spring break trips originally sanctioned by Welch College and to discourage international travel follows highly publicized warnings from governments and health organizations and is out of concern for the welfare of individuals planning to travel as well as concern for our college family and the broader community. The responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for our community is one we take seriously and approach both prayerfully and thoughtfully.

Multiple Professionals Consulted
The Special Committee made its decision after reviewing information from trusted sources—including the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC, among others—and consulting with epidemiologists from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), colleagues in higher education, denominational leaders, and many others who have offered both information and support. Furthermore, we are especially grateful for the counsel received from officials at Sumner Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Gallatin.

The Special Committee is grateful to our Welch family for its full cooperation and understanding in this difficult situation. Furthermore, and most importantly, we encourage our community to continue to pray for the many people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak that has currently infected more than 89,000 and resulted in the death of more than 3,000 people worldwide.

Everyday Preventative Measures
All health officials and professionals consulted urge that we remind faculty, staff, and students to follow everyday preventative measures such as home isolation when sick, respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes, and appropriate hand hygiene, among other actions recommended by the CDC and TDH. The Special Committee continues to monitor this situation and will issue necessary updates. We welcome the feedback of our Welch College community.

Special Committee to Review Coronavirus Outbreak

Members, in alphabetical order:
Matthew Bracey
Coach Greg Fawbush, Co-chair (gfawbush@welch.edu)
Dr. Jon Forlines
Russell Houske
Dr. Greg Ketteman
Craig Mahler, Co-chair (cmahler@welch.edu)

For the latest information about coronavirus, visit welch.edu/coronavirus