Centre College President John Roush announced on Friday, Feb. 28, that he has appointed a Coronavirus Task Force, which will hold its first meeting early next week.
In an email message to the campus community, Roush said he was “Acting out of an abundance of caution and in response to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that communities across the United States be prepared for potential domestic outbreaks of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19.”
Roush also made clear in his message that many staff and faculty across the Centre campus have already been invested in efforts to monitor and address the College’s reaction to this evolving global public health crisis.
“However, I believe it is time for Centre to more formally engage our collective efforts across a number of offices that stand to be potentially impacted by continuing developments,” he said.
The Coronavirus Task Force will be comprised of members of the College’s existing Crisis Management Team, along with others who have needed expertise. This includes staff from the Student Health Center, Center for Global Citizenship, Center for Teaching and Learning, and Information Technology Services.
Given its population of international students and nationally recognized study abroad program, Centre has been monitoring the coronavirus situation since December.
The College was pressed into action at the beginning of its Spring academic term based on a recommendation from the Kentucky Department for Public Health issued on Feb. 8. In response, a number of Centre students observed a 14-day isolation period after they returned to the United States from China after the College’s three-week CentreTerm in January.
No student ever exhibited any symptoms, and all students eventually returned to normal activity.
Currently, Centre has 56 students studying abroad in London, England, and Strasbourg, France. Lori Hartmann, interim director of the Center for Global Citizenship, has been in daily contact with the College’s program directors in those cities.
With Spring Break on the horizon, Hartmann said, all the students have been “highly discouraged” from travel to Italy.
Roush said he is confident that Centre has a talented team in place to monitor and react to continuing needs as part of the College’s dedication to the safety, health and well-being of the entire campus community.
by Michael Strysick
February 28, 2020