Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
In order to maintain a safe environment that promotes the well-being of our campus community, a special ad hoc committee of the college’s Safety & Security Committee and others was recently formed to monitor recent events related to the Coronavirus. In order to gain an understanding of those from among our community who expect to travel internationally from now until May 31, the Committee is asking all faculty, staff, and students to self-report international travel using the survey linked here on/by Friday, February 28.
Currently, we are aware that members of our community will travel in the coming weeks to, at least, Taiwan and the U.S. Virgin Islands to serve others. Thus we are monitoring this changing situation daily. Currently, according to John Hopkins University, authorities have confirmed more than 75,000 cases of the Coronavirus worldwide, with 23 in Taiwan, 15 in the United States, and 0 in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While educating leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world is at the heart of Welch’s mission, the Committee is considering all possible options for trips, including continuing to sanction the service opportunities to both Taiwan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, cancellation/postponement of one or both trips, or selection of another location, among other options.
After both discussing the matter with internal and external stakeholders and conducting research, we believe that cancelling the college sponsored/sanctioned trips is premature at this time. However, we will continue to monitor the situation in the event that we need to alter our decision—up until the moment of departure. Neither the U.S Department of State (State) nor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has currently issued any travel advisories/restrictions for either Taiwan or the U.S. Virgin Islands. If international travel proceeds as planned, we will ask those person(s) traveling to sign a waiver, which is currently under development.
We expect to continue our review of the trips and issue another update on/about March 1 (i.e., about 10 days prior to spring break/the group’s departure) or sooner, if needed. While we are prayerfully hopeful that the worldwide situation will improve over the coming weeks, we are carefully considering this matter and, after reviewing the facts and circumstances, are prepared to make a thoughtful decision that provides for the welfare of our entire community of faith and learning.
In the meantime, we are calling our campus community to pray for resolution to this worldwide event that has resulted in the tragic loss of nearly 2,000 lives worldwide and the safety of those traveling, while, finally, asking for wisdom as decisions are made. Furthermore, in order to inform our campus community with the same helpful information used to inform our decision, we offer the following resources for consideration:
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public from the World Health Organization (WHO)
- Daily Situation Reports released by WHO that offers an executive summary of the latest information available regarding the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide
- Emergency Alerts and travel advisories from the State Department or the CDC (Taiwan (State); Taiwan (CDC); U.S. Virgin Islands (CDC))
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) from the CDC
- Taiwan Centers for Disease Control
- U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health
We aim to inform the campus community—especially those traveling internationally—in a timely fashion with the latest information and to convey with clarity the inherent risks to international travel due to the Coronavirus. At the same time, any member of the campus community who is scheduled to travel internationally must also conduct the research necessary to make an informed personal decision. Risks include, but are not limited to, government travel restrictions, contracting the Coronavirus, and, in some cases depending on location, limitations of the healthcare system, quarantine and related complexities, and/or special steps imposed by the college or others to monitor one’s health upon returning to the college during the 14-day incubation period, among other things.
We trust this public service announcement is helpful to our campus community and illustrates the seriousness with which we take our responsibility to facilitate a safe and secure learning environment whereby Welch College fulfills its mission to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. We look forward to communicating as more information becomes available and as soon as decisions are known. For the time being, do not hesitate to contact either Coach Greg Fawbush or Mr. Craig Mahler, the special committee co-chairs, with any questions.
In His Service,
Special Committee to Review Coronavirus Outbreak
Members, in alphabetical order: