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Coronavirus: Email to Students, Faculty and Staff 1-30-20

Princeton University has been closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The University’s response to this issue continues to be guided by updated information from government and health officials, as well as our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all members of the University community. As a result, we will update advice as circumstances change.  Please read this and future emails carefully so you have the most up-to-date information. The University’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus websitemaintains current information.

This update includes information for individuals planning travel to China and for individuals returning to campus from China. 


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for China to avoid nonessential travel (Level 3) and the U.S. Department of State reclassified its travel advisory to Level 3 – Reconsider Travel to China overall (and to Level 4 – Do Not Travel to Wuhan, specifically).

Per Princeton’s policy and based on the updated alerts and reclassifications, China is now considered a higher-risk destination. At this time, the University’s guidelines on travel to China are as follows:

  • Undergraduate students or graduate students will not be approved to travel to mainland China as part of a University-sponsored program or activity through 23 March 2020, when conditions and guidance will be reassessed. We recommend deferring other types of travel that are not University sponsored (leisure travel, personal-interest travel) for the foreseeable future.
  • Faculty and staff: The University strongly advises against faculty and staff travel to China. Any faculty or staff who wishes to travel to China for a University-related reason is strongly urged to consult with Kara Amoratis, Associate Director of Global Safety and Security, before making travel plans. Due to the dynamic and evolving situation in mainland China, Princeton’s emergency assistance provider, International SOS, may not be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency or may have limited resources available. 


Travelers returning to Princeton from China may face additional screenings while traveling and at ports of entry before arriving on campus. In addition, many airlines are reducing or eliminating their flights to/from China.

The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) are not recommending that colleges and universities quarantine, isolate, mandate use of masks, or apply any other restrictions on students, faculty and staff who do not have symptoms of novel coronavirus, even if they have recently returned from affected or restricted areas of China.

Per current CDC guidelines, we are not prohibiting these individuals from attending classes, teaching or working in offices or laboratories. However, out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with our mission to support all members of our community we are recommending the following:

  • Students, faculty and staff who have been in Wuhan or other restricted areas of China OR who have been in close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus within the past 14 days are asked to contact University Health Services at 609-258-3141.
    • If you are exhibiting symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, you should see your health care provider. Students should go to McCosh Health Center. 
      Prior to visiting a healthcare facility, it is recommended to call and self-identify as a returning traveler from a restricted area of China who has symptoms.
    • If you are not exhibiting any symptoms, we advise that you consider self-isolation until 14 days have passed since you were last in Wuhan or another restricted area or were in close contact with someone with coronavirus. Self-isolation means staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people.
      • We will work with students who elect to self-isolate to reassign or alter living spaces to ensure that they are not sharing a room or bathroom with others.  Our ability to do this will be limited, and we will do our best to accommodate the highest priority cases.
      • We advise that during the period of self-isolation you do not attend classes in person or come to work, including work in laboratories. 
      • We suggest that faculty and supervisors accommodate the requests of students or employees who consider self-isolation under these extraordinary circumstances.
  • Students, faculty, and staff who were in Chinabut not in one of the restricted areas AND have not been in close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus within the past 14 days, should have no restrictions or conditions for attending work or class. We recognize that some may elect or consider self-isolation. We will support and accommodate them as much as possible. 


Even as we take the precautions outlined in this letter, let us remember that the likelihood that any particular individual is infected with the coronavirus is very low. There are no confirmed cases of 2019-n-CoV in New Jersey at the time of this writing. You can prevent coronavirus, flu, and other respiratory diseases by following good practices:

  • 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.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and disinfect your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you haven’t already been immunized against the flu, contact University Health Services to schedule your free flu shot.

We realize that some members of the University community may be experiencing anxiety or stress related to concerns for themselves or family and friends. 

  • Students may call 609-258-3141 to arrange an appointment with a counselor or schedule an initial consultation through myUHS
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek counseling through Carebridge

We’re fortunate to be part of a diverse University community that attracts and supports students, faculty and staff from around the world. In that spirit, it’s especially important that we be supportive and inclusive of those members of our community who have been affected by this crisis and that we create and maintain a living environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.


The University will continue to monitor for new information about 2019-n-CoV coronavirus, including updated guidance from national authorities. The University’s 2019 Coronavirus website is updated often and includes answers to frequently asked questions. 


Aly Kassam-Remtulla, Vice Provost for International Affairs & Operations

Irini Daskalaki, MD, Infectious Disease Physician, University Health Services

Robin Izzo, Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety

Back to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

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