President Eisgruber addresses Princeton community on Covid-19

President Christopher L. Eisgruber writes to the University community about preparing for and mitigating impacts of coronavirus.

Dear members of the Princeton community,

Princeton, like other universities and institutions across the country and around the world, is actively engaged in efforts to prepare for and mitigate the impacts from Covid-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus. I am writing to ask your assistance as we proceed. Our response to this challenge will be most successful if we support one another and work together to protect our community during this challenging time.

We are fortunate to have an excellent staff of experienced professionals across campus planning for, and responding to, the problems posed by Covid-19. Their job is not easy. Our team is working tirelessly seven days a week to support the health and safety of our community in response to rapidly evolving circumstances and incomplete information.  We are fortunate to have such outstanding and dedicated people working on our behalf. 

Despite their hard work, expertise, and commitment to this community, we are bound to face significant inconveniences and disruptions in the days and weeks ahead. Public health situations like the one presented by Covid-19 are, by their very nature, unpredictable and constantly changing. We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to prepare for and deal with new challenges as they arise.

Given the risks posed by the virus and how little is known about it, we will likely have to make some difficult choices as situations arise. Our top priority must be to support the health and wellbeing of our community as we continue to advance our teaching and research mission. Though we will try our best to minimize resulting burdens, I do not expect that we can eliminate them. Indeed, the virus has already disrupted study abroad programs and required changes to international travel plans at Princeton and on campuses across the nation and around the globe. I want to express my appreciation to those who have accommodated these changes or helped to support the people affected by them; we will all need to be ready to adapt our behavior and make some sacrifices in the months ahead. 

It will take the cooperation and good will of our entire community to help mitigate the impact of this virus.  I encourage everyone to employ basic health best practices that can help decrease the spread of Covid-19, including washing your hands often and thoroughly. Here are three more concrete things you can do to help:

  • Take care of yourself. People on this campus are heroes! Many of us try to ‘power through’ a cold or a fever.  So, let me be perfectly clear — the best thing you can do for yourself, your friends and your colleagues is to take care of yourself if you aren’t feeling well.  Colleagues, stay home from work. Students, contact McCosh Health Center and make accommodations for classes.  Get some rest, get any medical attention you need, and get yourself healthy.
     
  • Plan ahead. We don’t know if, when or how the potential spread of Covid-19 will impact the University’s day-to-day operations, but we do know there are things we can do to be prepared. We are asking faculty to work with the Dean of Faculty’s office to identify strategies for continuing coursework under various scenarios, and administrative staff are refreshing and reviewing contingency plans. We ask all students to continue to follow guidance about classes, travel and other activities.
     
  • Stay informed. We will continue to update the University website, princeton.edu, with the latest relevant information and guidance. If you have questions, please consider this your first stop. If you have further questions, you can direct them to response@princeton.edu.

So far, the impacts of Covid-19 on Princeton have been limited, but even limited impacts can cause real disruptions and inconveniences. I’d like to thank all of you for your continued patience as we continue to address this evolving situation. I also want to reiterate my thanks to the team that is working diligently to ensure the health and wellbeing of every member of our community. Working together, I am confident that we will be able to navigate whatever lies ahead and support one another through this difficult and uncertain time.

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