March message from Interim Dean Boosinger

March 10, 2020

Dear faculty, staff, students and friends,

Spring semester is always in incredibly busy time in the life of our College. In a typical year as we approach spring break, students are preparing for midterms, writing papers and looking forward to graduation.

Students walk on Clemson campus

Simple acts like hand-washing and staying home when sick benefit our University community. Image credit: Clemson University Relations

Unfortunately, this spring semester has been complicated by challenges caused by the spread of a new coronavirus around the world.

  • We are taking the necessary precautions to protect our campus.
  • We are working to protect the continuity of our students’ academic programs.

The University has met this rapidly developing global and national situation with an abundance of caution. Decisions that some might initially have viewed as premature are appearing more prudent as the days pass.

Study abroad impact

During recent weeks, our primary focus has been on our international programs and how to ensure the safety of our students abroad, here on the Clemson campus and at our other sites in Charleston and Greenville.

As you may know, last week study abroad students from Clemson University were asked to return home to reduce the risk of them being stranded or isolated in other countries, or even worse, becoming infected with COVID-19.

On March 2, the director of our School of Architecture, Kate Schwennsen, held a teleconference with her 19 students studying in Genoa. “They are all calm, and healthy and sad,” she reported.

Other study abroad students and their families are experiencing similar feelings of disappointment and frustration. I also hear that students, faculty and staff here in Clemson are feeling uncertainty and anxiety.

Unanticipated changes and unprecedented challenges have added an extra level of complexity to an already complicated organization. I continue to be impressed by Clemson’s thoughtful approach to addressing this evolving situation.

We are always fully committed to the best interests of our students.

Be assured that our faculty and staff are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of our students abroad and their ability to get home. They also are working diligently to make sure that all of our students can continue to get a great education.

Staff members in our College and our colleagues at the Pam Hendrix Center for Education Abroad have been in close contact with our students abroad, monitoring communications 24 hours a day from faculty and staff at international locations.

In Clemson

Clemson University has created a centralized webpage with official information and policy related to the coronavirus, which is being updated at least once a day:

Please use this COVID-19 Update website as a resource and source for official information. And please help us prevent the spread of misinformation.

  • Clemson University health officials announced on March 9 that they are actively monitoring one possible case of novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The individual, a non-student, is currently in self-quarantine at an off-campus residence. Test results are pending.
  • There have been no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on the main Clemson campus, or on its campuses in Charleston or Greenville.
  • South Carolina now has seven people who have tested positive for the virus: five in Kershaw County, one in Charleston County and one in Spartanburg County.

Be aware that Clemson and our College have taken action to protect students and the University community. These actions include:

  • Increased cleaning and sanitation on campus.
  • Clemson University has suspended University-related international travel.
  • The University and the College have severely restricted University-related domestic travel, unless it has been deemed essential.
  • The University has instituted self-quarantine periods and screening processes before our study abroad students can return to campus. Many of these students will complete their semesters online.

While it is impossible for us to know exactly how this situation might evolve in the coming weeks and days, I wanted you to know that we are doing everything we can to help ensure positive outcomes.

What you can do

We are all in this together. Each of us can take individual actions that are good for our community as a whole.

  • Simple steps like frequent hand-washing can help prevent the spread of viruses such as colds, flu and the coronavirus.
  • Students, faculty and staff who are sick with cold or flu symptoms should stay home from class and the workplace. Instructors and supervisors should support these decisions.
  • Good communication is critical, so that we all can act on the most accurate information. Sharing rumors and misinformation, even unintentionally, only adds stress and takes us away from the work at hand – helping our students.

Sincere regards,