Monitoring Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020 6:15 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd community, 

In these times, embracing a routine and the parts of your life that can continue in spite of the circumstances has become vitally important. This week, classes have resumed remotely via live lectures and assignments to virtual labs and independent study. This work will serve two purposes: completing your Spring 2020 Eckerd College education and offering you another avenue of connection to the world you knew before Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emerged as a pandemic. We encourage you to return to your classwork, writing and other projects with zeal. Reach out to your professors directly if you need help with technology or keeping up. 

Most of you should have settled into where you will be for the duration of this crisis, so now’s a great time to tell us where you are. Please provide your current contact information and address so that we may update your profiles that faculty access to reach you. Check out this video to learn more.

Students and parents should have received the first edition of The Virtual Flush yesterday outlining select virtual activities being hosted by our student services staff. Events include fitness, mental health, wellness, academic enrichment and more. All activities have been added to the calendar on eckerd.edu/everywhere, so pop in anytime to stay socially engaged. 

Isolation can be difficult. If you’re feeling distressed, please reach out to counseling@eckerd.edu to get in touch with our support staff and talk through how to access the resources you may need. While the campus is closed, the Eckerd Health Center staff will be on the front lines in St. Petersburg helping with COVID-19 testing. If you have questions related to prescription refills, billing, referrals or anything else, please call Bayfront Medical Center at 727.526.3627 and ask for either Linda Griggs or Chris Sherburne to assist you. 

If we all follow recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue social distancing or shelter-in-place measures through April 30, our healthcare system is less likely to be overburdened with critically ill patients. Remember to always practice good personal hygiene and look to official sources such as the CDC and Florida Department of Health for up-to-date information. News about College efforts and operations will be posted to eckerd.edu/coronavirus.

Be sure to stay connected. Visit eckerd.edu/everywhere.


March 27, 2020 3:15 p.m. Update

Dear Students,

Following President Donald Eastman’s announcement on Tuesday, March 24, that residence halls would remain closed for the remainder of the semester, students who either reside in Florida or who had remained in the State during the extended Spring Break were offered a short window of opportunity this week to return to campus to pack and remove their belongings. The number of available time slots during this first move-out period was necessarily limited so that staff could ensure that effective social distancing practices were implemented. We recognize that many of you were unable to take advantage of this opportunity, and we apologize for the inconvenience this rapidly developing situation has caused for you. 

Please be assured that your items will remain secure in your room until the College is able to allow students to return to pack.  In the interim, Housekeeping will work with Student Life to discard perishable items left behind in residence hall rooms and common areas. Additionally, during this time, Facilities staff may enter your room to perform emergency work orders or to ensure the proper functioning of building systems. Future move-out dates will be announced when local, state and federal guidelines clearly indicate it is safe to resume travel and operations. Unfortunately, it is unclear when travel restrictions will be lifted and College operations will resume, so we are unable to schedule at this time the next series of move-out days.  

For those who need or want their items sooner, or want to have their items placed in storage sooner than later, the College has approved two independent companies with whom students may contract directly to pack and either store or ship their belongings. For further information about these firms and the options they offer, please click on the links below:

Thank you for your patience in this most challenging time. As we work together to reunite you with your belongings, we are committed to keeping as our priority the health and safety of the entire Eckerd community.  Please direct any questions or concerns that you may have to moveoutassistance@eckerd.edu.


March 25, 2020 5:30 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Faculty and Staff, 

As you may have heard, the Pinellas County Commission passed a “safer at home” resolution on Wednesday. It becomes effective at midnight, and asks residents to only leave their homes for essential purposes such as work, trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, or to seek medical care. This resolution will continue so long as there is a declared local state of emergency in the County. As a private college, Eckerd is considered an essential business, but only for the purposes of facilitating distance learning, conducting critical research, or performing essential functions. Only staff and faculty members required to fulfill those obligations should come to campus, and then only if their presence on campus is necessary. (Supervisors will communicate with select staff members.)

Now more than ever, we need to work together. Doing our parts by staying home unless we need supplies or medical care will take the burden off of healthcare workers who must continue to serve the critically ill among us. Eckerd community members are also finding other ways to help.The Natural Sciences Collegium is gathering personal protective equipment (PPE), usually used in lab courses and campus research, that can be used by County first responders and local hospitals. If you have items at home, please consider donating. For more information about donations, please visit this site. A few costume design students are joining Prof. Jessica Thonen in sewing masks for healthcare workers that will be delivered to local practitioners through Hope for Tampa. If you’re interested in joining that effort, visit this site

After protecting the health and safety of our families, our second priority will always be delivering the hallmarks of an Eckerd College education in any situation. If this is your first time, working from home, you might find these practical tips useful. Google Meet can also be a resource for more than daily productivity. Consider scheduling a virtual social with your co-workers or arranging a Netflix Party to get more social interaction. The Employee Assistance Program offers up to six counseling sessions a year to full-time employees and their families. For more information, or to take advantage of the program, call 1.800.531.0200. 

For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/coronavirus. If you have questions or concerns, please contact emergency-alerts@eckerd.edu.


March 24, 2020 9:30 a.m. Update

Dear Eckerd community, 

When we decided to close residence halls, it was with the hope that early action could help mitigate the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and hasten the return to normalcy and our students’ return to campus. Students, faculty and staff know how important the Eckerd life, and its many Spring traditions, are to every member of our community.

Now, as local and state governments issue stricter limits on the population at large, we have made the immensely difficult decision to close residence halls for the remainder of the Spring Semester and finish all courses remotely

We are even more disheartened to announce that we are canceling the Commencement ceremony on campus, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, May 17. We fully intend to celebrate the Class of 2020, but please be patient with us as we find an Eckerd way to do that. 

If you have remained in the area since the residence halls closed on March 18 and would like to retrieve the remaining items in your residence hall rooms, please apply for a block of time to come to campus starting Wednesday, March 25 through Saturday, March 28. If new restrictions are introduced by federal, state, or local authorities, we may have to postpone this process to a later date. No student currently located outside the State of Florida should plan to travel to campus. Student Affairs staff are developing a range of options for those outside the state who need to retrieve their possessions. An email detailing these options will be sent by Friday, March 27. Questions concerning move-out may be directed to moveoutassistance@eckerd.edu.

The College will provide prorated refunds for the balance of housing and dining fees, or allow families to apply any credit balance to Fall 2020 charges. Please allow us some time to activate these refunds, as students pay varying amounts for their housing, and financial aid packages must be sorted. You will receive communication from the Business Office on or before April 15. 

As classes resume remotely on March 30, so will many of the student services and activities you have come to depend on. The College is providing you resources and programming at eckerd.edu/everywhere, and we will continue to update that site as details become available. You will hear from each of your professors about the specific plan for each of your classes.

The collective efforts of students, faculty and staff to remain positive in the face of this challenging time are a testament to the strength of the College and its community. Thank you to everyone for helping us weather this crisis and reconvene healthy, strong and equal in number as when we departed.  

Please continue to do your part by following all CDC, health department, and local recommendations and practice good personal hygiene. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/coronavirus.

All best wishes,

Donald R. Eastman III

President


March 20, 2020 4:10 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd community, 

Communities just like ours across the country are making sacrifices to stop the spread of the Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and prevent the unnecessary loss of life. Since the beginning of this crisis, we’ve all been challenged to think creatively about how we expand our work and world beyond a 188-acre campus on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the results have been commendable. 

Students and their families have shown great flexibility as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance changed rapidly and frustratingly stymied best laid plans. Faculty have dedicated parts of their Spring Break to be trained in online learning platforms and take time to restructure their syllabi to meet the needs of their students around the globe. Staff continue to innovate ways to offer support services at a distance and keep us all together even though we remain apart. 

Thank you for all you have done and will do. Further information about the future of the semester is expected to be announced by March 30. Until then, please follow all CDC recommendations, practice good personal hygiene, and be a good steward of your time and resources. 

To stay up-to-date as the situation develops, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/coronavirus.


March 17, 2020 6:30 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community, 

As the Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic progresses, governments across the country are mandating business closures and advising those who are able to avoid group settings. The message is clear: Life is changing, but it is not going to stop. In that spirit, the Emergency Management Executive Team has a number of reminders and updates: 

Eckerd Community

  • Beginning Wednesday, March 18 at noon, Campus Safety will institute ID checks at the front gate, and students no longer will be permitted on campus. 
  • We are reviewing Human Resources policies, and that office will issue clarification or guidance, as soon as possible, on telecommuting, sick leave and student workers. 
  • Please review the Florida Department of Health flyer on social distancing. All Eckerd College employees should implement these practices. Please continue to use good personal hygiene.
  • At this time, Admission tours have been suspended. 

Students

  • Students leaving campus should be prepared to resume classes remotely on March 30. Expect more information next week about the tools and platforms to use to complete required coursework. 
  • Students who remain on campus and plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day should follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by not gathering in groups larger than 10 and practicing social distancing. Note that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an order that all bars and nightclubs in the state will close for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. today. 
  • Campus-based student research is suspended. 
  • If a student must pick up a car or retrieve an item from their residence hall, the student must contact Campus Safety by calling 727.864.8260 ahead of time to coordinate.
  • Decisions regarding housing and dining adjustments will not be finalized until the full impact of coronavirus is known.
  • Students and families can expect to receive additional information about College operations on March 30.

For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates, FAQs and other information at eckerd.edu/coronavirus. If you have questions or concerns, please contact emergency-alerts@eckerd.edu.


March 13, 2020 5:30 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community,

Today, Pinellas County issued a state of emergency, which was followed shortly after by the declaration of a national emergency. In addition, at the direction of the Florida Department of Education, Pinellas County Public Schools will close through Friday, March 27.

We invite you to read a letter to families from Eckerd College President Donald R. Eastman III.

Eckerd College is continuing to work with students as they prepare to vacate campus by noon, Wednesday, March 18. We would like to reiterate some points and clarify others based on questions we received today:

  • In addition to closing campus residence halls at noon, Wednesday, March 18, all campus facilities will be closed to students at that time.
  • Students are welcome to leave their belongings in the residence halls.
  • Students may leave their cars on campus. Any student who believes they will need to access the car while campus is closed should park in North Lot. Campus Safety will escort the student to their vehicle.
  • Spring Break will be extended by one week until March 29.
  • Remote delivery of the academic program, through various modes appropriate to each class, will begin March 30. Students will engage in their academic work from off campus.
  • Students should not plan to return to campus on March 30; they will be contacted with an official message from the College about returning.

For other frequently asked questions, please visit eckerd.edu/coronavirus.

The Emergency Management Executive Team (EMET) will continue to meet to discuss continuity issues. In addition, EMET will reevaluate the state of the virus, local community and nation. For updates, visit eckerd.edu/coronavirus.


March 12, 2020 5:15 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community,

Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that we are now facing a global pandemic. Epidemiologists are now urging a strategy shift from containing individual COVID-19 cases to preventing community spread through mitigation or “social distancing” measures. Eckerd College fully supports current public health goals and is announcing the following changes to our operations in order to protect all members of our community.

Eckerd College will close campus residence halls beginning noon, Wednesday, March 18. Spring Break will be extended until March 29. Remote delivery of the academic program, through various modes appropriate to each class, will begin March 30.

These are difficult decisions, and we share your frustration and disappointment. We hope to resume all the elements of campus life including face-to-face instruction as soon as conditions permit. Faculty will determine the best instructional methods for their classes and will use a variety of platforms and resources to meet their teaching goals. Faculty will strive to maintain the close faculty-student interaction that is a hallmark of an Eckerd education.

On March 30, the College will communicate our plans going forward. Until then please carefully read the following information and prepare to act:

Students 

  • Effective immediately, any submitted guest registration forms will not be approved.
  • All students, no matter their Spring Break plans, must leave campus no later than noon, Wednesday, March 18. Dining services will cease at that time. Those, who for documented reasons, require assistance in securing off-campus accommodations must complete the  COVID-19 Emergency Accommodation Waiver.
  • All students should take academic materials for the semester including books and laptops, health information, as well as other critical information or supplies with them. If your Spring Break travel plans prevent you from retrieving what you need by March 18 at noon, please email reslife@eckerd.edu.
  • You may leave belongings in your residence hall, but not your pets. If the residence halls remain closed for the rest of the spring semester, students will be provided specific information about when they will have access to pack up their belongings or have them mailed to their homes.
  • Classes will resume via remote delivery on March 30. The extra week of Spring Break gives our faculty and students time to prepare for this new phase in the semester.
  • All College Program Series (including Presidential Events Series) and all future intercollegiate and club sporting events are canceled until further notice.
  • We understand students may be concerned about how they will meet requirements of the academic program, including senior art exhibitions, internships, Ford Scholar research, thesis work, and more. More information on specific issues will be provided at a later time.
  • Academic advising, counseling services, career advising, and many other student services will be available remotely. Information will be forthcoming.

Faculty

  • Please use the extended Spring Break, March 16-27, to prepare and communicate with your classes about the way coursework will continue during remote learning.
  • ITS has updated the Technology For Professors – Users Guide. Please consult this document as you finalize your remote delivery plan. ITS will provide training sessions on how to use various technologies for remote instruction beginning next week.
  • When classes commence remotely on March 30, you will be expected to maintain your office hours and academic advising responsibilities.
  • Academic facilities will remain open; however, access will be restricted to faculty and staff after March 18.
  • If faculty have questions or concerns, they should contact Suzan Harrison, Dean of Faculty, at harrisms@eckerd.edu.

Staff

  • Staff are expected to report to work as usual and are encouraged to review the technology tools that can be useful for functioning in remote locations if it becomes necessary.
  • If you are feeling ill, please do not come to campus. Remember to contact your supervisor.
  • If staff have questions or concerns they should speak to their supervisor, the Divisional Vice President or the Office of Human Resources.

The Emergency Management Executive Team (EMET) will continue to meet to discuss continuity issues. In addition, EMET will reevaluate the state of the virus, local community and nation. For updates, visit eckerd.edu/coronavirus.

All best wishes,

Donald R. Eastman III
President


March 11, 2020 5:00 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community:

Overnight two positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in Pinellas County, the county in which Eckerd is located; both cases are considered to be travel-related. To our knowledge, neither individual has a connection to the Eckerd community. Be assured that the Eckerd College Emergency Management Executive Team remains in close contact with Pinellas County Emergency Management and the Pinellas County Department of Health and continues to monitor this evolving situation. College operations remain normal.

Updates on campus operations and answers to the most common questions from the community are now posted at eckerd.edu/coronavirus. Users also will find links to national advisories on travel from the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Florida Department of Health.

At this time, classes are expected to resume after Spring Break. For a full list of Spring Break instructions and requirements, visit eckerd.edu/safety. As a brief reminder:

  • All students are required to submit their Spring Break travel plans using this form.
  • If you decide not to travel during Spring Break, you’re welcome to stay on campus! In fact, we’d prefer that. Enjoy St. Petersburg and our Gulf beaches!
  • All students leaving campus for Spring Break should take their books, all course materials and laptops with them—just in case. At this time, there is no planned change in College operations and regular classes will resume March 23.
  • Any student visiting a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice country must self-quarantine for 14 days at an off-campus location before returning to campus. The CDC recommends avoiding cruise travel and long flights.

It is a shared responsibility to protect each other, particularly the faculty, staff, elderly and those within our community with pre-existing medical conditions. We encourage everyone in the Eckerd community to continue exercising good personal hygiene practices.

For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/safety. If you have questions or concerns, please contact emergency-alerts@eckerd.edu.


 

March 10, 2020 8:50 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community,

Campus operations remain normal.

The Emergency Management Executive Team continues to follow developments related to Novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the local department of health about how to evaluate risk to anyone who was potentially exposed to coronavirus. No campus residents or commuters have been requested by the Department of Health to self-quarantine, nor have any tested presumptive positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Spring Break

The College requires that all members of the campus community report where they intend to visit by using this form. We strongly encourage students to stay on campus during Spring Break.

  • All students leaving campus for Spring Break should take their books and all course materials with them in the event that there’s a change in College operations or they are unable to return due to ever-changing travel restrictions or potential exposure to coronavirus. If the College decides to engage contingency plans to deliver the academic program remotely, an official College message will be distributed announcing that change in College operations. At this time, there is no planned change in operations.
  • All students are required to submit their Spring Break travel plans using this form. While there is evidence that coronavirus infection may be manifested in milder ways in younger individuals, please bear in mind that an infected younger person could be a vector of transmission to others, endangering the lives of those with whom they come into contact, particularly the elderly and those with underlying or chronic health issues. Any student who fails to submit a travel form will be subject to disciplinary action under the terms of the EC Book. As Eckerd community members, students should comply out of concern for the safety and well-being of others.
  • We strongly urge that students, faculty and staff traveling either domestically or internationally consult the local and national health authorities of their destinations prior to departure. Any student visiting a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice country must self-quarantine for 14 days at an off-campus location before returning to campus. The CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide and reconsider long flights.
  • In keeping with our instructions to campus visitors, please consider where your Spring Break guests are traveling from and the potential that they have been exposed to the coronavirus through recent travel to an affected area. Residence Life will contact students to solicit more information about campus guests for Spring Break.

To reiterate, it is a shared responsibility to protect each other, particularly the faculty, staff, elderly and those within our community with pre-existing medical conditions. We encourage everyone in the Eckerd community to continue exercising good personal hygiene practices.

For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/safety.


March 6, 2020 4:15 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community,

The Emergency Management Executive Team (EMET) continues to monitor developments related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please read carefully below for updates on Spring Break and College operations.

Spring Break

Spring Break is less than two weeks away, March 14–22, 2020. As presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reported, travel within the U.S. may become more challenging. As part of public health precautions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health agencies monitor the health of attendees at professional meetings, large gatherings and events. If even indirect exposure to coronavirus is suspected, precautionary measures could be recommended, which may include a request to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. If you travel outside the United States to a country labeled Level 2 or 3 by the CDC, the College will request self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days.

If you have travel scheduled during Spring Break, the College is requesting that you report where you intend to visit by using this form. For those who choose to change their travel plans and all students, you are welcome to remain on campus during Spring Break.

College Operations

Effective Monday, March 9, 2020, Eckerd College is suspending all sponsored travel that has not been deemed essential for business continuity. Even previously approved travel may no longer be supported by the College and should be revisited with the divisional supervisor. All questions and concerns should be directed to the Dean of Faculty or divisional Vice Presidents.

We encourage you to continue exercising good personal hygiene practices, and we will continue our increased attention to the cleaning of shared spaces. It is a community responsibility to do what we can to protect each other, particularly the faculty, staff, students, elderly and those within our community with pre-existing medical conditions.

For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 site and the Florida Department of Health. Eckerd College will continue to post updates and information at eckerd.edu/safety.


March 2, 2020 12:30 p.m. Update

Dear Eckerd Community,

Over the weekend, Florida has confirmed its first two “presumptive positive” cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency to access federal response funds. Eckerd College will continue to work closely with federal, state and local health officials as a part of its Pandemic Flu Plan. As of Monday, March 2, 2020, College operations remain normal.

Until further notice, students, faculty and staff returning from countries with Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to returning to campus. Alumni and guests planning to attend Reunion activities on March 5-8 who live or have recently traveled to those countries should contact Alumni Engagement at alumni@eckerd.edu.

As Spring Break approaches, please consider your travel plans and monitor the CDC’s Travel Health Notices, which may continue to change based on diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Eckerd’s International Spring Break Service Trips planned for the week of March 16 have been cancelled.

Every member of the Eckerd College community can do their part in preventing the spread of illness, including COVID-19, by following the CDC hygiene recommendations:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of the tissue afterward.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. While not as effective, hand-sanitizing stations also are available across campus.
  • Clean your high-touch items frequently. Eckerd College’s cleaning supplies meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for emerging pathogens, and housekeeping staff have started cleaning high-traffic areas more frequently.
  • Do not attend classes, or come to work, if you feel ill.
  • Students – Talk to your professors about making up assignments and exams if you need to miss class.’Staff – Contact your supervisor to find out if telecommuting is an option or use your available sick leave.
  • If you are suffering from symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing), please call your primary healthcare provider; Pinellas County residents who have these symptoms and also have recently traveled to impacted areas should call the Pinellas County Health Department at 727.824.6932.

The Emergency Management Executive Team will continue to monitor the developments of COVID-19 in Florida, and will keep the community informed of the situation. For updates, please visit eckerd.edu/safety.


Published February 27, 2020

Eckerd College is committed to making well-informed decisions about the health of the Eckerd community. Reports of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to emerge, and the College’s Emergency Management Executive Team (EMET) is following the protocols in its Pandemic Flu Plan and attentively monitoring the situation with colleagues from the Pinellas County Health Department and other local and regional response agencies. So far there are no cases of COVID-19 in the southeastern U.S., including Florida. We will be in touch as conditions change, and if individual preparations are needed.

The Office of International Education has been working closely with our study abroad partners throughout the world to monitor the spread of COVID-19. We are in close communication with Eckerd students and who are studying abroad at our London Study Centre and through exchange and affiliate programs. We are advising them to take all recommended precautions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. State Department, and their host countries.

In the event students need to return home early from their study abroad programs, we will work with these students to assist them with housing and the completion of their coursework through an academic continuity plan. We will evaluate future study abroad-related travel, including spring break service trips abroad, as the semester continues.