March 11, 2020

CIIS is closely monitoring the COVID-19 Coronavirus. This is a sensitive and rapidly evolving situation, and we extend our support and healing wishes to those who are affected.

This page provides regularly updated information for the CIIS community. The University is taking steps to ensure the health and safety of this community and its visitors by following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California Department of Public Health, and San Francisco Department of Public Health. There are currently no confirmed cases at CIIS. 

For the latest updates on the Coronavirus or flu, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

More CDC information about travel-related advisories can be found on the CDC website.

Please note: the majority of classes have moved to virtual access through Sunday, March 29.

*          *          *          *          *

UPDATE: March 11, 2020 Letter from President Emerita Judie Wexler, PhD

Dear CIIS Community,

Over the last few weeks, we have been monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and adjusting our operations in response to this fluid and rapidly changing public health situation.

As I write this, San Francisco has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19. To the best of our knowledge, CIIS does not have any confirmed cases at this time. The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has announced aggressive recommendations to stop the spread, including social distancing and good personal hygiene practices. Everyone has been asked to cancel or postpone nonessential large meetings for a period of two weeks. In response, we have cancelled all Public Programs events scheduled for March and postponed two conferences. CPTR will be held as planned this weekend with a virtual access option.

Today, we made the decision to move classes to a virtual format on Friday, March 13through the end of spring break. We recognize that there are some classes (e.g., clinic classes) that cannot be put into a distance format. A list of classes continuing to be offered face-to-face will be published on the CIIS COVID-19 webpage as information is clarified. Please check regularly. For those classes, students who cannot come to campus will continue to have the option of requesting ZOOM access using the appropriate form. Students are expected to attend classes at their regularly scheduled times.

CIIS will remain open. We will continue to communicate with you on a daily basis about the impact of the virus and our actions in support of this community. My thanks to everyone for the work you do for CIIS and for the creativity and dedication of all.

UPDATE: March 7, 2020


As of today, no classes or events are canceled. Please check regularly for updates. We ask that everyone follow the protocols described below under “How can I protect myself?” The same actions that help protect yourself will also help protect the community.

Campus Safety:

The University has ensured that hand sanitizers are accessible throughout our campuses; likewise, we have increased the frequency of maintenance and cleaning of restrooms, surfaces, and other facilities.

Out of concern for the wellbeing of the CIIS community, the ACTCM Acupuncture Clinic and CIIS Counseling Clinics are not able at this time to provide treatment or counseling to clients with fever, respiratory symptoms, or cough.

Spring Break and General Travel Advisories:

The U.S. State Department has temporarily suspended entry into the United States for any foreign nationals who traveled to or from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Details on federal restrictions can be found on the CDC website. In addition, many airlines have suspended flights into and out of these countries, raising the possibility that students traveling to them may not be able to return.

Members of the CIIS community should be aware of updated travel guidance based on the current risk level of COVID-19 as determined by the CDC. Please check the CDC's travel webpage regularly for the latest information.

Health Advisories:

Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the Department of Emergency Management today announced aggressive new recommendations for San Francisco to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community.

We recognize that some members of the community may be at higher risk. We understand that everyone must decide what is best for you. If you are sick, especially with fever, fatigue, or respiratory symptoms, please seek advice from your health care provider and do not come to campus until you are cleared.

Campus Logistics:

Students: If you are unable to come to campus for regularly scheduled classes, we will arrange for virtual participation.

Everyone: Because the situation is evolving, we recommend that everyone plan for the possibility that you will not be able to come to campus, even though right now we are fully operating in our buildings. We also suggest you set up your computer connection to work at a distance, should the case arise.

*          *          *          *          *

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 2019 novel coronavirus, and how do I find out more information?

The Coronavirus disease COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. 

For the latest updates and information on COVID-19, please consult the following sites:

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms may include fever, cough and sore throat. In some patients, these symptoms can worsen into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, or if have other comorbidities, such as heart disease, liver disease, are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia and dying from the disease.

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.

How does the coronavirus spread?

Most often COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person via close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory illnesses spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. It is not yet known how long the new coronavirus can survive on surfaces, but based on data from other coronaviruses, such as SARS, it may be for up to two days at room temperatures.

Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Students, faculty, and staff who have symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing AND a history of travel from an area where there is an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 or contact with a person with coronavirus, can take the following steps to prevent spread of the disease:

  • Seek medical attention immediately as appropriate for the condition. Call ahead whenever possible before going to a clinic or hospital.
  • Isolate yourself (the individual) from others while arrangements are being made for transport to appropriate medical care.
  • Contact your county health department immediately.
  • Contact your CIIS supervisor to discuss your situation.  

What can I do to protect myself against the coronavirus?

This is a rapidly evolving situation worldwide. The CIIS community is encouraged to stay informed about updates and advisories. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventative actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home and do not travel or go to work or school when you are sick.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue—discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Don’t share common use items such as cups, utensils and other personal items.

Should I wear a mask?

At this time, the CDC and San Francisco Department of Public Health are not recommending that people wear masks. The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses is to avoid people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes or nose, and cover up your cough or sneeze with a tissue. People who are sick should stay home and not go into crowded public places or visit people in hospitals. 

For more information, see the CDC's webpage on respirators.

Can CIIS staff, faculty, and students who are concerned about contracting coronavirus telecommute?

Remote Access for Employees: Staff, faculty, and students needing to work from home can be set up to access their CIIS files. Contact CIIS’ IT staff, John Becker and Alex Buslovich, by filing a help ticket:

Remote Access to Classes for Students and Faculty: CIIS has authorized students who are ill (or who are not able to travel to a CIIS campus) to participate in course meetings on-campus via webinar. If you wish to request remote access to a residential class, please fill out and submit a request form to attend a course by webinar. This will allow us to ensure that equipment and links are available to you.

Please give 24 hours’ notice if possible.

Where can I get more information about the virus?

Former President, Community

Related News

Stay Connected to CIIS