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COVID-19 Incident Response Team Update, March 2, 2020

COVID-19 Incident Response Team Update, March 2, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Last week, President McCartney activated the COVID-19 incident response team (CIRT), a senior leadership team that is guiding the college’s continued response to the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19).

This email is the first of what are expected to be regular communications from the CIRT sharing important updates and new guidance for the Smith community.


  • On Friday, Feb. 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised its travel notice for Italy to alert-level 3. Following protocol, the college closed its study-abroad program in Florence, Italy, and made arrangements for students to return to their homes and continue their coursework remotely.
  • Until further notice, all college travel is canceled to any country with a CDC level-3 warning. All nonessential international business travel is strongly discouraged.
  • Any Smith student, faculty or staff member returning from a country designated by the CDC at alert-level 3 is now required to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days and remain symptom-free before returning to campus. If returning from CDC alert-level 3 countries, students are required to contact their class dean, and employees are required to contact Human Resources at
  • The college is closely monitoring study-abroad programs in CDC alert-level 2 countries and preparing contingency plans should those programs be closed.
  • All students studying abroad in any country will be asked to complete an early departure questionnaire for planning purposes.
  • The college is increasing the availability of hand sanitizers across campus. Empty dispensers should be immediately reported to facilities management.

Community Guidance

  • Students, staff and faculty are strongly encouraged not to report to work or class if they are feeling unwell. Employees who have questions about the use or availability of sick leave should contact Human Resources. Faculty members should not penalize students for illness-related absences.
  • Recognizing that COVID-19 may interrupt the global medication supply chain, the college recommends that all students and employees maintain a one-month supply of all prescription medications.
  • The college strongly recommends following CDC prevention guidelines, including:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • The CIRT has posted an FAQ that will be updated as the situation evolves.

As always, the safety of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority. We also understand how disruptive this situation is for our community and beyond. We will continue to offer regular updates to ensure our community is well-informed and supported.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of this situation, we strongly encourage you to monitor for updates and further guidance.

David DeSwert
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Chair, COVID-19 Incident Response Team