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Salem State cancels all international university-affiliated spring travel due to risk of COVID-19 (coronavirus)

*Published March 4, 2020

This letter was published and shared on March 4, 2020. This is a rapidly changing situation and Salem State University is closely monitoring developments of the Coronavirus outbreak. Learn the latest updates.

Dear campus community,

While the domestic flu still remains a greater threat and the risk of COVID-19 to Massachusetts residents remains low, the unknowns about this virus are very challenging. Last evening, Governor Charlie Baker and the Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education Carlos Santiago held a conference call for all public and private Massachusetts colleges. The Governor strongly urged the cancellation of all international trips planned for spring break and the foreseeable future. I fully agree with this directive. There are too many unknowns at this time, and I join our state sister institutions who have all agreed to follow the Governor’s recommendation.

Therefore, Salem State is canceling all university-affiliated spring travel that is international or outside of the continental United States. This includes all travel by faculty, staff, and students that is affiliated with or sponsored by Salem State. 

While this situation is unfortunate, the safety of our students, faculty and staff must be our top priority, and I join Governor Baker and my counterparts at other state universities in seeing such caution as necessary.

Domestic, Summer and Personal Travel

At this time, university-sponsored domestic travel within the continental U.S. has not been cancelled. However, we are watching this situation very closely and will send an update if needed. We are also monitoring the evolving situation to make a determination about domestic and international summer travel.

Salem State also strongly discourages other professional or personal non-university sponsored travel outside of the continental U.S. at this time, as COVID-19 has spread quickly. Please be aware that if you choose to travel, you may be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine upon your return to this country and you may not be permitted to return to campus. You may also experience travel delays and unforeseen medical costs if hospitalization is needed that may not be covered by your health insurance. Please take into consideration the impact personally and professionally if you were to be quarantined upon return. The CDC classifications are being updated daily and each individual needs to make their own determination.

If you decide to travel outside of the continental U.S. on non-university business this spring, please notify the following departments:

Students: Counseling and Health Services at 978.542.6413
Faculty and Staff: Human Resources at 978.542.6123  


We have received questions about reimbursement for university-sponsored travel. As each situation is different, we ask that you alert your area vice president if you will be seeking reimbursement. We ask for your patience as these situations vary greatly and immediate answers may not be available.

The Center for International Education has begun working with students to determine reimbursement options for university-sponsored trips, as a number of the university’s spring break trips have been canceled.

Students Currently Studying Abroad

As you may recall from this past weekend’s message, we have contacted each student that is already studying abroad. Per the guidance of third-party programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, we will support any student who wishes to return home and will do our best to ensure that their program is providing options for the continuation of coursework. Please note that we are not mandating that these students return home. If they do return from a CDC determined pandemic country, we are requiring them to remain off-campus for 14 days and that they participate in a self-monitoring process under the guidance of our counseling and health services department.

Campus Preparedness

The university is also continuing our preparedness on campus through our pandemic emergency response and continuity of operations plans. These include response protocols should there be a suspected case on campus, as well as a continuity of operations plan should the university have to temporarily close offices or buildings.

All contingencies are being considered on how to manage this changing situation. The pandemic emergency response plan includes an emergency health incident advisory committee. These teams are being led by Chief of Staff Nate Bryant and Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety and Risk Management Gene Labonte. Other team members include Emerson Baker, Elisa Castillo, Corey Cronin, Kalei Ensminger, Karen House, Carla Panzella, Ben Szalewicz, Julie Whitlow, and Jessica Mackool (Aramark).

Please monitor your Salem State email as we will provide pertinent updates as they become available.

Thank you for your support during this challenging time.

John D. Keenan


PS. Members of the campus community should be taking steps to protect themselves and other from the flus and other viral infections. These include:

  • Getting your flu shot. If you have not yet received your flu shot this season, please do so to protect your own health and that of your family friends and our community.  
  • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds (the length of the “Happy Birthday” song);
  • Using hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands;
  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing;
  • Refraining from smoking or vaping or reducing your frequency of use while feeling sick;
  • Disinfecting common surfaces regularly (door handles, counter tops, remotes, elevator buttons, etc.);
  • Avoiding people who are sick;
  • Getting adequate sleep, proper nutrition and staying hydrated;
  • Staying home if you have the flu or another infection with a fever of 100.4F or greater. (Faculty and staff should refer to the employee handbook).


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