CSU leadership has convened a task force of university emergency response and health experts to review the university’s pandemic plan. We are working diligently to ensure that our plan accommodates the needs of our students, faculty and staff and that follows CDC recommendations.

This includes planning strategies to:

  • Protect the health of our students, faculty and staff by minimizing the spread of illness
  • Identify critical roles and responsibilities that must be performed
  • Identify a clear process and responsibility for decision making
  • Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our students’ ability to attend classes, our faculty’s ability to teach or conduct research, or our staff’s ability to come to work
  • Address business continuity to minimize disruption and identify triggers and thresholds for actions

The University has a “Pandemic Severity Level” guide that determines the pandemic level and actions associated with each level. Currently the tool is based on illness and absenteeism rates, which trigger different actions in the various stages of the pandemic. The goal is to protect the health and well being of our students, faculty and staff while maintaining critical services during the event.

March 5 email from Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda to all faculty and staff regarding preparations for academic and business continuity

Our health and emergency planners have been busy watching the COVID-19 situation, monitoring advice from the Centers for Disease Control and our state and local health departments, and reviewing and modifying our pandemic communicable disease plan in context of COVID-19.

In addition, we are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for cleaning our buildings and residence halls and preparedness planning.

University pandemic preparedness planners are working to add additional hand sanitizer stations across our campuses and making cleaning wipes available to students, faculty and staff.

We are working with Central IT and academic departments to create strategies and systems to continue coursework, when feasible, if classes could not be held. More information will be shared soon on that system.

CSU is in frequent contact with state and local public health officials and is closely monitoring the situation. We have a plan in place for how we would address a suspected case associated with our university community.

Colorado State University has had a university-wide plan for a communicable disease pandemic since 2006. This thorough framework was developed in partnership with community partners; it is in the process of being reviewed and updated as necessary.

This plan is to be used when influenza virus or other similar communicable diseases reach a pandemic level – this is different from the seasonal flu. A pandemic causes major disruptions and occurs when three conditions are met:

  • A new virus sub-type emerges
  • It infects humans across the globe
  • It is efficient and sustainable in transmission from human to human

The university’s planning outlines how CSU will:

  • Aim to reduce illness; minimize academic, research and business disruption and economic loss; and ensure that core and critical functions continue during a communicable disease crisis.
  • Coordinate with the Larimer County Department of Public Health and state and federal agencies when there is a concern about widespread communicable disease or a pandemic. These agencies also include the health care sector and local law enforcement agencies.

Key elements of the plan outline what actions the university will take as well as when and how the actions will be initiated based on a six-phase approach to assessing risk, including evaluating absenteeism rates, and correlating them with points to restrict public access to buildings, closing buildings, canceling events and conferences, and suspending classes.

This includes:

  • A plan for closing buildings that are not essential to the university’s services to limit person-to-person contact and maximize university resources to focus on areas of campus where services are most needed.
  • Establishing guidelines for when to consider suspending classes, when and if to consider sending students who can travel home, and how to support students who would need remain on campus or in the area
  • Defining tactics to slow or prevent the spread of illness in a university environment, including isolation and quarantining practices for students who live on campus; a plan and recommendations for cleaning university facilities and providing personal protection equipment to front-line employees such as gloves, masks and other gear for those who must interact with individuals who are ill.
  • Establishing procedures for securing buildings and supplies, and coordination among first responders.
  • Establishing procedures for triaging sick students, faculty and staff, if necessary
  • Establishing criteria for resuming normal activities and communicating that decision, as well as protocols for resumption activities such as cleaning

The plan also:

  • Outlines steps to protect business continuity including continuation of research and course instruction.
    • Facilitates alternative methods for classroom instruction to teach and provide academic materials to keep coursework on track
    • Develops plans for telecommuting for employees who do not need to report to campuses
    • Identifies employees with critical roles and core skills, and critical services and functions that must be maintained if the university closes or limits functions
    • Engages Human Resources in addressing concerns
    • Establishes a plan for animal care
  • Establishes a clear chain of command for decision making
    • External agencies who have the authority to order quarantines and other public health actions
    • University authority to cancel classes, events, or close buildings, and maintain business continuity
  • Considers the effects of travel on faculty, staff, students, parents, visitors and community
    • Considers travel recommendations and restrictions for students, faculty and staff
    • Considers travel recommendations and restrictions for students, faculty and staff who are abroad or will be traveling abroad
    • Identifies essential travel, if relevant, for faculty, staff and students
    • Establishes that incoming travelers should follow travel guidelines such as self-isolation

CSU has had screening protocols in place since January 14 in our health clinic, the CSU Health Network.

In addition, our offices involved in response, including International Travel, Emergency Response, and our medical and public health care experts, are in constant communications with each other as well as with local and state health authorities. We are part of a larger network of community agencies including first responders, school districts, hospitals and other groups who are on the ground responding to COVID-19 concerns. We are continually sharing information about concerns across the larger Northern Colorado community.

We are following all protocols and precautions. This includes ensuring that we are tracking travel associated with the university and that students, faculty and staff have information about how travel alerts and COVID-19 pertains to their travel.

We also are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for planning and preparedness, which includes following recommendations for cleaning our facilities and planning for potential or confirmed cases nearby or within our university community.

It is critical that all faculty, staff and students who are traveling in association with the university – as a student or employee – follow university protocols for registering their travel so we know where you are and can communicate with you. More information is available at http://rmi.prep.colostate.edu/international-travel/.

We expect to update faculty and staff on travel protocols by March 9.

For more information about COVID-19 and the university’s response, see www.safety.colostate.edu/coronavirus.