Our community of faith and learning anticipates the upcoming FORUM20/Bible Conference. This annual gathering is an important event in the life of Welch College that complements our mission to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. We believe that this conference will encourage those in attendance as we gather to hear the Word of our Lord.
We have also engaged in serious deliberation about the event in light of recent concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). While we have noted that, some have expressed exaggerated fears, our primary concern is for the health and well-being of our community, including the many guests who plan to join us for FORUM20.
As you may be aware, a special committee was recently appointed to monitor this global phenomenon. Originally, the committee was charged to study the feasibility of international travel by our students to serve in both Taiwan and the U.S. Virgin Islands over the coming spring break. However, due to the rapid change in this situation, the committee quickly realized the necessity of assessing campus preparedness in the event of a community-level outbreak. We recently announced the cancellation of both trips, though we are prayerfully hopeful that sponsors can reschedule the trips when the Coronavirus situation improves.
Additionally, we have implemented measures to monitor faculty, staff, and student international travel to areas with community spread and/or locations with active travel advisories from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Upon the explicit recommendation of members of the local medical community, we are requiring that anyone who travels to these areas will self-quarantine for at least fourteen days prior to returning to Welch College to complete the spring semester.
Recent actions follow highly publicized warnings from governments and health organizations, and they come from a concern for the welfare of individuals planning to travel as well as concern for our broader community. As the spread of the Coronavirus continues to grow and raise concerns, we want to communicate some helpful information on how we are monitoring and preparing the campus for this apparent eventuality.
In order to provide a safe and healthy environment for those attending FORUM20, we are asking that faculty, staff, students, and guests use discretion so as not to expose others to communicable illness, especially if one has traveled to/from an area with community spread and/or active CDC travel advisories. Furthermore, we ask that constituents follow preventative measures recommended by the CDC and others, including limiting close contact with those who are sick, covering coughs or sneezes, staying home when one is sick, and cleaning hands regularly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, among others.
Though we understand the impossibility of eliminating the spread of Coronavirus and other communicable illness entirely, we are grateful for the commitment of the Welch community to do its part to minimize this risk and, in so doing, to provide for the well-being of others.
Special Committee to Review Coronavirus Outbreak
Members, in alphabetical order:
Coach Greg Fawbush, Co-chair
Dr. Jon Forlines
Dr. Greg Ketteman
Craig Mahler, Co-chair