Chestnut Hill College, hospital respond to coronavirus spread

Posted 3/11/20

by Kate Dolan


Hill College is among the many area universities and colleges responding to the

new Coronavirus pandemic, implementing Center of Disease Control and …

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Chestnut Hill College, hospital respond to coronavirus spread


by Kate Dolan

Chestnut Hill College is among the many area universities and colleges responding to the new Coronavirus pandemic, implementing Center of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and reviving infectious disease protection plans.

With 10 confirmed cases of the virus in Pennsylvania as of Tuesday morning, the college, which enrolls 1,600 students, 245 of whom are international, has been in regular contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a page devoted to coronavirus updates and information is now on the college’s website. Following CDC recommendations, the page includes travel precautions and guidelines, which are especially timely as students are returning to campus this week after last week’s spring break.

“Chestnut Hill College is requiring a 14-day quarantine period for travelers from CDC Level 3 countries before they return to campus,” reads the page, listing those countries as including: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

In a statement last Thursday, Chestnut Hill Hospital - Tower Health informed the community that the hospital is following CDC protocols, and is prepared to screen and diagnose the virus, and offered information about impact and prevention.

“The vast majority of those infected with COVID-19 recover,” read the statement. “The best defense against COVID-19, as with any influenza, is to practice proper hand hygiene and take other common steps that can prevent the spread of any respiratory virus.”

On the college’s campus at 9601 Germantown Ave., faculty and staff are applying prevention procedures and planning for changes an outbreak may bring.

“We have an infectious disease plan that has been reviewed, revised and updated,” said James Barry, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications at the college. “It’s an outbreak response plan and it involves the responsibilities of the essential departments, what each department will do.”

The counseling center is prepared to respond to student’s mental health needs in the event of an outbreak and thorough house-keeping procedures are underway.

“We are disinfecting, we have hand sanitizers, we have a new electrostatic machine,” said Barry. “Multiple rooms at the Sugarloaf Conference Center are being cleaned and set up to be utilized as quarantine areas if needed.” Sugarloaf is a second Chestnut Hill College campus located at 9220 Germantown Ave.

In the event of a campus closure, discussions are ongoing on how to continue class instruction.

“Academic affairs is making proactive plans for business continuity for delivery of programs in the event the college needs to close,” said Barry, referring to existing distance learning systems at the college.

The Global Education office has been in touch with students studying abroad and those sponsoring agencies. A student studying in Milan has left Italy to stay with family in London and will continue courses online. Another student is in Spain and another in Germany, and the college remains in daily contact with the schools there.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that Arcadia University and the University of Pennsylvania have suspended spring study abroad travel.

“We are in discussion about the status of study abroad,” said Barry. Forthcoming trips at the college include a service trip to Ghana in May and a study trip to Milan, Italy in late June.

As Coronavirus updates rapidly emerge, faculty and staff at the college are being encouraged to work from home and supported in the decision to do so. The college has postponed the Distinguished Biomedical Lecture featuring Dr. David Webner, scheduled for March 11, for a date in the next academic year. The Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation's Interfaith Conference scheduled for March 21 is also cancelled, and the college will look to reschedule the event in the fall. Barry says that the college is still deciding how to approach college-related travel, and will follow CDC protocols, while working with academic and institutional neighbors.

“We’ll be consulting with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the CDC, information from the World Health Organization, our academic colleagues: colleges and universities in the region, we’ll be acting together.”

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