By President Emerita Judie Wexler March 7, 2020

Dear Community,

We hope that you are well. We want to offer our University’s support and healing wishes to students, faculty, and staff who have family and loved ones affected by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and the flu. And thank you for taking care of yourselves and one another in this time of growing concern. We have been monitoring the situation and making plans if the virus becomes widespread in San Francisco. That is not the case now.

As many of you have heard, on Wednesday, the Mayor made an emergency declaration in response to COVID-19. Please understand that declarations of emergency are made so that our local governments can tap into state and federal resources. S.F.’s declaration is a proactive move from the Mayor’s office that will allow our local government to better respond to public health concerns. 

“It will mobilize city resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing, coordinate agencies across the city, allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments, and raise awareness throughout San Francisco about how everyone can prepare in the event that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) appears in our community,” the Mayor said.

The declaration is effective immediately for seven days, though the Board of Supervisors will vote on its continuation March 3.

The announcement follows similar declarations in  Santa Clara and San Diego counties. The move came as U.S. health officials warned they expect to eventually see a continual spread of coronavirus in the United States.

Broader Screening

Also on Thursday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took steps to broaden surveillance, saying it would greatly expand the number of people checked for the virus. Under new criteria, anyone with symptoms plus a recent travel history to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened. So, too, will patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization.

The CDC has been encouraging organizations to develop plans now should an outbreak occur. 

CIIS has been rigorously planning for this and continues to monitor the situation to update our contingency plans accordingly and take precautionary action as needed.  They are as follows:

On Campus

The University will ensure that hand sanitizers are accessible throughout our campuses and will increase the frequency of maintenance and cleaning of restrooms, surfaces, and other facilities.

Spring Break Travel

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

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, MD, an infectious diseases specialist and professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Stanford Medicine, believes that “traveling in the U.S. is fine right now. But, the situation is extremely fluid.”

As world travel restrictions are rapidly changing, we urge you to continue to check the status of your destination.

Remote Access for Employees

According to Associate Provost Chip Goldstein, staff, faculty, and student employees needing to work from home can be set up to access their CIIS files via Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RDS provides a full desktop experience for the end user, and no third-party ‘VPN’ software on their workstation is required.  CIIS’ IT staff, John Becker and Alex Buslovich, can provide user documentation for how to connect and get set up using RDS; contact them by filing a help ticket:

Remote Access to Classes for Students and Faculty

Class meetings can be shifted to a virtual environment by using either Canvas (Big Blue Button) or Zoom. Ben Cline-Suzuki, Director of Online Learning, wants to reassure faculty that we have tools ready to handle a situation when and if temporarily virtualizing instruction becomes necessary,

in the event a student is not able to attend an in-person course—or in the rare event that requires the University to suspend in-person, campus operations.”

For more information, please email or contact Ben at 415.575.6111, or Instructional Designer Elisa Paik at 415.575.3499.

We ask that faculty and supervisors be supportive of any student or staff needing these accommodations and requiring time at home.

As stated in our previous email, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However,  CDC recommends the following everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  2. Stay home when you are sick (please)—especially anyone with a compromised immune system. Your supervisor will not be mad.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. 
  4. Clean your hands for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces at home, work, or school—especially when someone is ill.
  6. And of course, practice other good health habits. Try to get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, meditate, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Where to Get Coronavirus News? (From

Let’s start with this: It’s a science story, not a political one. So don’t listen to political spin on the virus; seek out the scientific and medical stories and information.

Outlets dealing in facts should be your go-to sources.

The New York Times is offering constant live updates on one webpage, including a particularly useful FAQ section with questions such as “What is coronavirus?” and “How worried should I be?” The site also includes an interactive map that's tracking where the coronavirus has been confirmed and where travelers should avoid. It has dozens of well-sources stories with no political agenda or opinion —just fact-based reports.

Like the Times, The Wall Street Journal has a live coverage coronavirus page, including its impact on the stock market.

NPR has a guide on how to prepare your home for the coronavirus. And, of course, the Washington Post’s coverage is superb.

There are plenty of other places as well — and the Associated Press, and Democracy Now to name a few — with coronavirus-specific pages providing constant updates. All appear to have responsible, straight-forward coverage that deals in facts.

For now, information is what’s critical. Start here, and share other outlets that you trust with others.

Even more information: 

We will continue to track the situation as new information emerges and to prepare CIIS to take the appropriate steps to help keep this community safe. 



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