March 4, 2020
Dear members of the NCC community,
Concerns and anxieties about the coronavirus have been sweeping our region and nation. Clearly, this is a health issue that requires our attention and that we must be prepared to address as a college. I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are well positioned to deal with this situation and are taking appropriate, proactive actions to support the health and safety of our community members.
To guide our thinking and response as a campus community, we have established an Infectious Disease Task Force. Guided by Dr. Judy Rex, Dean – Allied Health & Sciences, Alyson Patascher, Program Manager – Public Health, and Tracy Newman, MSN, Health Center Coordinator, this group is carefully looking at recommendations for handling the situation under the leadership of committee chairs Dr. David Ruth, Vice President / Chief of Staff, and Dr. Nate Carpenter, Director of the Center for Global Educational and International Services.
You should know we have been closely following recommendations of The Centers for Disease Control and monitoring updates from the World Health Organization, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Health on this subject. In addition, we have created a special section on our NCC website to serve as an easily accessed, central portal for related communications and background information to keep faculty, staff and students informed.
As precautions, we have taken a number of short term actions including:
- Stepping up nightly cleaning and sanitation of facilities, as we do during every flu season.
- Requesting members of our community – faculty, staff, and students – remain at home when sick, and not return to work/class until they are fever free for 24 hours.
- Asking you to contact the Student Health Center on the Bethlehem Campus (regardless of which campus or site you regularly attend) if you have been diagnosed with any contagious disease.
- Suspending the Study Abroad trip to Greece, scheduled to depart March 6.
It should be reassuring to know that this is not the first time that NCC has dealt with concerns about major health situations. During the last 15 years, we’ve successfully managed our campus through the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak, and SARS epidemic.
As it relates to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s helpful to know that health officials say that for the time being, the common flu may be a more significant risk to most Americans than coronavirus. But we do need to remain vigilant to reduce health risks related to the virus. To that end, the best ways to protect yourself and your family (according to health officials) include washing hands frequently, staying away from those who are sick, staying home if sick yourself, and covering your cough or sneeze. These are all scientifically proven as some of the best and most practical ways for individuals to stay disease-free.
Please monitor our coronavirus web page for further updates.
Dr. Mark H. Erickson