Coronavirus Information

Coronavirus Information

All university notifications about additional developments with the illness, Widener’s response to it, or any impact on university classes or operations, will be communicated here. 

University Communications

Dear Widener Students, Faculty, and Staff:

The university received notice today that a member of the Widener community has tested positive for COVID-19. Although we cannot disclose this person’s identity, they are doing well and recovering comfortably at home.

The individual was last on Main Campus sixteen days ago, on March 9. However, they began showing symptoms on March 18. Although the chance of spread on our campus is quite low due to this timing, we are notifying the university community out of an abundance of caution.

The university has researched the potential in-person contact this individual may have had with the Widener community. The individual indicated that on March 9 they were present in the Schwartz Center locker rooms and on the softball field. Widener has notified public health officials and individuals who may have been exposed. Crews will be cleaning and sanitizing the areas of campus where this person was present.

The health and safety of the Widener community remains our top priority. Anyone who may have been in these areas of campus within the last two weeks needs to be aware of their possible exposure to the virus.

If you believe that you have been a contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you self-quarantine for 14 days. If you start to exhibit any concerning symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or flu-like symptoms, please notify your healthcare provider immediately.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid your exposure to this virus. In addition, as a reminder, the CDC recommends these actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. 
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. 
  • 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. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • Reach the Student Health Center at (610) 499-1183.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, you must contact me, Ellen DeLuca, Director of Student Health, at (610) 499-1183 or ecdeluca@widener.edu. I will work with you to connect you with the Department of Health and/or your medical provider. Additionally, I will have the ability to communicate with people with whom you may have come into contact. Your name will not be shared with anyone contacted.

It is difficult to hear that the virus has impacted an individual within our community. Unfortunately, this person will most likely not be our only colleague to receive a positive test. Coronavirus is especially hard to contain, and as the number of infected Americans grows, we are keeping all students, colleagues, alumni and other members of the Widener family close in mind.   

We will continue to provide further updates as information becomes available.

Sincerely,

Ellen DeLuca, CRNP
Director, Student Health Services

Dear Widener community,

As I reflect on the unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation we are experiencing, it is difficult to believe that just two weeks ago, our vibrant campuses were buzzing with their usual activities. The upheaval coronavirus has brought to our learning community would have been difficult to imagine in early March.

And yet, in the face of tremendous adversity, our Widener community has stepped up to meet this challenge with courage, determination, and brilliant problem-solving. Our culture of collaboration has never shined brighter, allowing us to continue our most important work – educating students in a caring and supportive intellectual environment and putting them on the inside track to success.

Aware of the need to prioritize the health and safety of our campus community, Widener was among the first universities to announce a move to electronic instruction for all. Our Information Technology and Teaching and Learning Technology staff members worked quickly with our dedicated faculty to launch a well-conceived plan. In just a week, all of our full- and part-time professors prepared to transition to digital instruction, so that learning could continue and students would progress toward their degrees and their dreams.

More than 1,400 students followed instructions for moving out of residence halls to promote health and safety and we have continued to provide space for fewer than 20 students on our main campus and about 20 on the Delaware Law campus, who have no other housing options currently.

At every turn, despite the unknowns and need for rapid change, the Widener family has demonstrated resilience, grace, and agility.

Most recently, state governments are limiting personnel on our campuses to only “life-sustaining” staff who are assisting students who must remain. Still, we continue to teach and fulfill our mission. Although this new virtual learning environment may seem strange at first, it has been reassuring and exhilarating to see classes resume. Already I am hearing many success stories. Some of our most seasoned, veteran professors are excited by their new abilities to teach electronically, and students have enjoyed participating in class from comfortable personal spaces while engaging extensively in discussion and interaction with classmates and professors. We are all learning from this experience together, and we are constantly monitoring for trouble spots, and answering calls for help as soon as they arise. Challenges are inevitable as we learn to maneuver virtually, but overall the results of our first few days of online teaching have been excellent and even enlightening.

Above all, I want to thank every member of the Widener community for your role in making it possible to continue pursuing our mission: educating students and giving them the tools to succeed.

I am grateful for the staff who organized and deployed our digital tools to facilitate online learning, for professors who eagerly accepted the challenge of moving their courses online, and for students who are  excited to continue learning.

I am grateful for the employees who have worked tirelessly to keep our campuses clean and safe, and for those who are constantly finding ways to keep the university’s business moving forward remotely, and to ensure all faculty, staff, and student workers are paid, in such unpredictable times.

These last weeks have been challenging, and at times disorienting for everyone, both professionally and personally. Our leadership and crisis management teams continue to monitor the situation, and refine Widener’s response, and I am committed to remaining in regular and frequent communication with all of you. Your well-being is paramount in all of our decisions.

As I review our progress, I am astounded and deeply moved by the enormity of what we have already accomplished together. These accomplishments have required an extraordinary level of commitment, creative problem solving, and faith in our university and in each other.

The words seem wholly insufficient, but they are the best I can offer right now: thank you.

Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Dear Widener Students, Faculty, and Staff,

On March 19, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf ordered that all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. to slow the spread of coronavirus. The mandate clearly states that all schools and universities must close their campuses and may only operate virtually or online.

The state will begin to enforce this mandate at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21. This has given us time today to get official interpretation of the mandate and to further assist any staff and faculty to transition to remote work from their homes if they have not already done so.

Beginning on Saturday, March 21, absolutely no Widener students, faculty, or staff outside of university-identified life-sustaining personnel may be present on our Pennsylvania campuses at any time until further notice. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of our community, we have already successfully transitioned to virtual instruction and our core mission of teaching will continue digitally. However, it is now essential that all faculty work remotely from home. No teaching or learning is permitted to take place on our Pennsylvania campuses in any classroom, lab, or other facility, under any circumstances.

If you must come to campus today to pick up anything that is absolutely essential to your remote work or teaching, please contact your VP or Dean. Anyone coming to campus today must have prior approval from their VP or Dean and observe social distancing while they are there. Mail services on campuses will also cease after today. Any mail delivered to campuses will be securely stored until we are able to return.

At our Main Campus in Chester, we are providing housing for 34 of our students who currently do not have other residence options readily available. We anticipate that the state will give us permission to continue providing these students with the life-sustaining services they need. This will allow us to maintain a significantly reduced staff of life-sustaining, essential personnel on the campus from Campus Safety, food service, cleaning, and facilities services.

The closure of our campuses is extremely difficult for all of us and I recognize it is yet another change amidst a swirl of uncertainty. I am saddened that the vibrant campus life our students, faculty, and staff all enjoy has been put on hold. At the same time, I am inspired and proud of how the Widener community has worked together to continue our most important work in the face of this adversity.

I appreciate your recognition of the seriousness and severity of these new measures. It is our responsibility to support this effort to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect the health and well-being of everyone in our community.

Warm regards,
Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Dear Faculty and Staff,

In a continued effort to communicate processes as they are adapted to this evolving pandemic, please review the following protocols for reporting illness or potential illness.

If you begin experiencing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, or if you have been exposed to someone who is exhibiting symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, you must contact Ellen DeLuca, Director of Student Health at (610) 499-1183 or ecdeluca@widener.edu. Ellen will work with you to connect with the Department of Health and/or your medical provider. Additionally, she will have the ability to communicate with people with whom you may have come into contact. Your name will not be shared with anyone contacted.

​Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Alison

Alison Kiss Dougherty
Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Dear Widener faculty and staff,

As a university, as a society, and as individuals, we are facing unprecedented challenges and painful decisions in light of the Coronavirus.  The disease is frightening and so is the related uncertainty; we are getting new and more dire information daily, such as yesterday’s “lockdown” of Montgomery County. This hits close to home, where many of our employees live, and I am worried for them and their families, as I am for all of you. 

I am pleased that the governors of Pennsylvania and our neighboring states are providing increasingly specific guidance.  As our Crisis Management Team meets regularly and works to protect the health and safety of our campuses, we are focused on making decisions that recognize the widespread and natural anxiety about the disease and its impact on our daily lives. We are aligning these decisions with the best scientific information we have to protect you while allowing business to continue as possible for the future health of our university.

We also must remain vigilant about our personal health and well-being. Beginning today, employees who are able to work at home are strongly encouraged to do so to the greatest extent possible.

All employees will continue to be paid during this crisis. If you have not already, please review the email that was published from Human Resources on Wednesday afternoon, outlining policies that will guide us through these unprecedented times.

Vice presidents and the provost will work with supervisors to determine which staff must come to campus to perform duties that are critical to our business continuity and to the safety of our students, faculty and staff who remain on our campuses. For those working on site, casual Widener Pride attire is welcome.

Vice presidents will report where employees are working on site so cleaning crews can concentrate efforts in those spaces. It is unclear how long the virus lives on surfaces or in the air, so the CDC recommends cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects daily. Employees who continue working on campus are also strongly encouraged to promote cleanliness and use sanitizing wipes around their personal workspaces throughout the day. The university is working to procure and provide these scarce cleaning supplies. Please continue to wash your hands frequently and take advantage of hand sanitizer stations.

To further promote social distancing, the university will also be eliminating discretionary events that bring people together. If you have the expertise to conduct a scheduled event or meeting virtually, please use that option. If an event or meeting requires ITS support, you may need to cancel or postpone it while the department works to ensure faculty and students have the tools they need to conduct electronic classes.

Our faculty is working exceptionally hard and with their usual dedication to make sure they are ready for electronic instruction to begin next week and staff members are doing all they can to keep the university running with their usual dedication and superb problem-solving abilities.  This is the Widener spirit—we come together and do what is necessary for the sake of our students and our beloved university.  Thank you!  As difficult as it has been to make the decisions we’ve had to make this week, I am especially proud to be your colleague and to observe how we’ve risen to this challenge together.

Warm regards,

Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President

Dear Widener University community,

The safety and well-being of all students, faculty, and staff in the Widener community is always our top priority.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the university. However, we have become aware of a small number of people within our community who have been exposed to affected populations. To ensure our community’s well-being, proactive decision-making is required.

With the goal that all Widener students successfully continue their education, and out of an abundance of concern for the health and well-being of our community, I announce the following plan:

Academics:

  • At the Main Campus, and at both law schools, all face-to-face classes will be suspended beginning Thursday, March 12. They will resume electronically beginning Thursday, March 19 and will continue in this manner to the end of the spring semester.
  • Each college and school within the university will provide instructions for its students outlining the delivery methods for their courses and other learning experiences (e.g. clinicals, internships, student teaching, etc.). All graduate and undergraduate students should monitor their university email vigilantly.
  • All Center for Extended Learning classes and all online graduate classes will continue according to the current schedule.
  • Student support services, including advising and tutoring, will be available in an electronic format. Information is forthcoming.
  • We are hopeful commencement ceremonies and senior week activities will take place and will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

Housing and Campus Life:

  • In keeping with the CDC’s guidelines regarding social distancing, residence halls will close on Sunday, March 15. Students should move out between tomorrow and Sunday. The Division of Student Affairs will provide a detailed plan for this four-day move-out process this afternoon. We do not anticipate residence halls will reopen this semester.
  • The Division of Student Affairs will accommodate international or other students who are unable to relocate. More information will follow shortly.
  • All student activities and events, including athletics, are canceled beginning Thursday, March 12 until further notice.
  • The University Center, dining services, and the Wolfgram Memorial Library will be open through Sunday, March 15 at 5 p.m. Future scheduling information is forthcoming.
  • Refunds for room and board accounts are being determined.

University Operations:

  • Day-to-day operations will continue for our staff and faculty. Human Resources will be providing information and guidelines shortly. 
  • The health of our staff and faculty is essential. Please stay home and take care of yourself if you aren’t feeling well.
  • All university-sponsored domestic and international air travel should be canceled beginning Thursday, March 12 until further notice, unless approved by your supervisor.
  • Meetings or events of 50 or more people should be canceled or conducted electronically.

We are living in stressful and uncertain times. Our Counseling and Psychological Services office will be open and available for appointments by telephone.

I encourage all members of the Widener community to monitor www.widener.edu/coronavirus for updates. Our leadership team is working to answer your questions to the best of our ability as quickly as we can.

The intent of these measures is to keep our community healthy and safe. I am grateful for your cooperation as we work together to implement this plan.

Widener has endured many challenges over its 200-year history and we always come together, rise to the occasion, and emerge stronger. I am proud to lead this dedicated community of learners.

Warm regards,
Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President, Widener University

Dear Widener Community,

As of March 6, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving Widener students, faculty or staff. However, we must remain vigilant. I am writing to provide an update on the steps we are taking to monitor the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to promote the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

Widener leaders have activated our crisis management protocol and have established a Crisis Management Team that is focused on coronavirus. The team is meeting regularly to review  preparedness plans and minimize the risk of potential exposure for everyone on our campuses. We are continuously monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, and other resources to develop appropriate responses and proactive steps to support the well-being of our students, faculty and staff.

Most importantly, all students, faculty and staff who are sick should stay at home to take care of themselves and to help prevent the spread of any illness.

If you have traveled abroad within the past two weeks to any country please complete this form upon your return to help us better support our community’s evolving needs.

If you have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or any other Level 3 countries, have been in contact with anyone who recently arrived from a Level 3 country (see CDC website for current Level 3 list), or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19, you are required to self-quarantine at home and avoid contact with others for a period of 14 days. You must do so even if you have no symptoms of illness. If you develop symptoms, please contact your primary care provider or Student Health at 610-499-1183.

Students who self-quarantine must email their professors, advising them of their status. For students who are unable to come to campus for a prolonged period of time, Widener is developing accommodations that will ensure you can access your coursework and your professors. For more information about this academic support contact success@widener.edu.

Widener will also make accommodations for faculty and staff to work from home when appropriate. If you are well, but have been or may have been exposed to the virus, speak with your supervisor about options for working remotely.

As we prepare for classes to resume, we have increased efforts to keep our campuses clean. Cleaning staff have accelerated and expanded deep cleaning of door knobs, hand rails, and water fountains, as well as tables and highly touchable areas. Although supplies are limited due to high demand, we have increased the number of hand sanitizer dispensers on campus, particularly in retail and food service areas. Because the CDC recommends hand washing as one of the most effective methods to prevent the spread of viruses, we are also installing additional soap dispensers in several residence halls on the main campus.

We understand that you may have many additional questions about COVID-19 and Widener’s response. We have developed a website, www.widener.edu/coronavirus, to keep the Widener community informed about important developments. It will be updated as needed. Topics covered on the web site include:

  • Travel Restrictions and Precautions
  • Study Abroad and Faculty-led International Travel
  • Personal International Travel
  • Self-quarantine
  • Campus Preparedness and Response
  • Health and Safety Reminders and Resources
  • Concerns Regarding Bias or Discrimination
  • Campus and Athletic Events

If you have any additional questions about COVID-19 precautions and preparations not covered on our site, please email presoffice@widener.edu. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact Student Health Services at studenthealth@widener.edu or (610) 499-1183.

Finally, difficult circumstances can generate worry and anxiety. It is in trying times that we must recommit to the principles of We’re All Widener and dedicate ourselves to practicing compassion, respect and inclusion. No one group is responsible for the spread of this virus.  All members of our community – whose diverse backgrounds enrich our campus – are a valued part of the Widener family.

Best wishes for a healthy conclusion to the semester,

Julie E. Wollman, PhD
President, Widener University

Travel Precautions

Coronavirus is receiving increased attention as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise worldwide. As many of our Widener students, faculty, and staff prepare to travel during their well-deserved spring break, the health and well-being of everyone in the Widener community is of top concern. In the spirit of prevention and education, we are sharing some helpful information to assist you in preparing for any upcoming travel.

Some of the most common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you are planning to travel and become sick while you are away, please seek medical attention immediately. Before and during travel, in order to be as informed as possible, please visit these websites from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of State to learn more about travel warnings and potential travel bans. We recommend that you prepare yourself to adjust your travel plans if it becomes necessary.

Information About the Coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC has provided the following useful information about the coronavirus:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC recommends these actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
  • 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.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.

If you are sick, please stay at home. You should be fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications before you return.

If you think that you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus in any way, follow these instructions from the CDC:
What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Faculty and staff should check their email for further information and updates.

This page was last updated April 1, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. 

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