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COVID-19: Email to Faculty and Staff - March 5, 2020

To: All Faculty and Staff

From:  Sanjeev R. Kulkarni, Dean of the Faculty; Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, Vice President for Human Resources

Subject: Information Regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Date: March 5, 2020

Following up on President’s Eisgruber’s March 3 letter to the Princeton community regarding coronavirus, we are writing to reiterate important information for faculty and staff members and to ask for your individual assistance during this challenging time. Although there are no coronavirus cases at Princeton University to date, we all need to take seriously the president’s urgent message that we will be most successful to prepare for and mitigate potential impacts if we support one another and work together to protect our community.

Based on the current guidance of various University experts and public health officials, we want to share these steps that you can take now:

Care for your own health

  • HR policy 3.1.5 Sick Days applies to benefits-eligible and temporary staff, and you may use it to cover your own personal illness or for when you need to stay at home to care for an immediate family member who is ill. Follow your department procedures for notifying your supervisor that you are staying home or leaving work when you are sick and for reporting time off in Time and Absence Management.
  • Unionized employees should refer to their collective bargaining agreements.
  • Faculty and academic professionals should consult with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for more information.
  • For illnesses that qualify for short term disability leave, refer to policy 3.1.9 Short Term Disability.
  • Refer to additional tips at the end of this memo.

Seek medical attention. In addition to being seen by a health care provider in person, Princeton medical plans offer telemedicine services that enable you to call initially rather than visit an urgent care facility, in-office physician, or emergency room. For more information about Princeton’s medical plans and supporting services, visit the HR website.

Stay informed. The best way is to read all University-sent emails and refer regularly to the coronavirus webpage on the University’s emergency management websitewhere information is being updated as we learn it.

  • A knowledgeable and dedicated response team comprised of individuals from responsible offices across the University meet regularly to monitor the spread of the virus, plan contingencies, and keep the community updated.

Plan now for the possibility of disruption to the University’s day-to-day operations.

  • All Employees: Update your contact information in HR Self Service.
  • Faculty: The Office of the Dean of the College and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty are putting together guidance on strategies for continuing coursework. The Office of the Dean for Research is preparing guidance on research continuity and managing research facilities. Both will be distributed within the next week. Review them, determine which strategies will work for you, and be prepared to use them if the need arises. We recommend that all spring-term course instructors think about who could potentially fill in for them should they become ill.
  • Managers and Supervisors: Update your departmental Continuity of Operations Plan to plan for essential operations during an emergency situation and minimize disruption of critical activities. Remain vigilant and encourage employees to adhere to the guidance in this email and on the coronavirus website. In this way, you play a key role in helping to minimize the potential spread of illness. Be flexible and support your staff members’ decisions to go home when feeling sick or work from home. Respect the privacy of employees by not seeking information from them about their medical conditions. As necessary, HR will provide more supervisory guidance.
  • Nonessential Staff: Talk with your supervisors about working at home remotely. Refer to HR policy 5.1.8 Remote Work Arrangements.
  • Essential Services Staff: Talk to your supervisors regarding expectations, work assignments, and various relevant operational contingencies. The University adheres to guidance from University experts and public health officials regarding proper safety measures.

Follow travel guidelines for yourself or your faculty and staff. Refer to the International Princeton Higher Risk Review List webpage for specific travel information for higher risk locations the University has developed and aligned with travel health notices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the coronavirus-related travel advisories of the U.S. Department of State (USDOS).

Follow travel guidelines for your guests.

  • As of March 4, the University prohibited guests from Warning Level 3 countries (currently mainland China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from coming to campus unless they have been outside of these countries for at least 14 days. This is due to the international nature of our campus and to our limited capacity to review travel itineraries and undertake medical assessments of guests.
  • Guests include those coming to give an academic talk or performance, visiting student research collaborators (VSRCs), conference attendees, collaborators, and contractors. This does not impact the return of registered students, faculty, or staff to campus.
  • Review the country-specific CDC and USDOS links above, as guidance evolves rapidly.
  • Departments or individuals hosting conferences on campus should register their events in the campus Event Management System (EMS) or complete a Conference and Event Services form to ensure that University officials aware of the event.

Respectfully remind individuals who appear ill that the University advises them to go home for their own health and safety as well as for the health and safety of the community. In keeping with our University values for our diverse community, it is especially important that we are supportive, respectful, and inclusive of all members of our community who are affected by this global issue. We are committed to maintaining a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.

Contact University Health Services at if you are, or if you become aware of someone on campus who is, diagnosed with or being tested for coronavirus. The University will keep the campus informed confidentially and as appropriate. Anyone who has been in close contact with an individual diagnosed with coronavirus will be contacted by public health officials.

Additional General Tips and Information

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid hand shaking, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue before coughing or sneezing with a tissue. Then immediately discard the tissue in the trash and disinfect your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you have not already been immunized against the flu, contact University Health Services to schedule your free flu shot.
  • The University is conducting more frequent and deeper cleaning of various classrooms, public spaces, and dining tables as well as changing dining utensils more frequently.
  • Hand sanitizer stands will be available soon at main entrances of many buildings and the Library.
  • Departments should stock all meeting rooms with tissues (available through WB Mason), hand sanitizer (difficult to purchase currently), and disinfectant wipes.

For questions about sick or other time off for staff, refer to the HR policy manual or contact your senior HR manager. For similar questions for faculty and academic professionals, contact Oliver Avens (faculty) or Karen Haskin (academic professionals). For additional questions, contact the response team by email at


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