SARS and Commencement
Updated May 8, 2003
Dear Homewood Students:
As we approach the end of the academic year and turn our
attention to Commencement, we want to bring you up to date
on our planning regarding SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome) and its potential impact on the Homewood student
community. We have also begun planning for our summer
programs and for the arrival of a new group of students in
late August, but at the present time we are focusing almost
all our attention on the next four weeks.
First, let us emphasize that there are no suspected cases
of SARS on the Homewood campus. The most up-to-date
information regarding this epidemic continues to be found
at the following web sites:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or
World Health Organization, or WHO
Maryland State Department of Health and Mental
Johns Hopkins University understands and appreciates the importance of Commencement to students and their families. Our primary goal, however, must be the protection of the health of our university community and visitors.
Therefore, the university strongly urges that any person who has recently resided in or visited a SARS-affected area not attend Commencement ceremonies or related activities if he or she develops any of the following symptoms:
Fever greater than 38.0 degrees C (100.4 degrees F) or
Shortness of breath or
Difficulty breathing or
For the purposes of this policy, a SARS-affected area is one under a SARS travel advisory from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of this date, the SARS-affected areas under a CDC travel advisory are mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
We ask students, their families and guests to err on the side of caution. If there is any doubt about the presence of any symptom in a guest who has traveled to the United States from a SARS-affected country, he or she should not attend Commencement or other public events.
Commencement guests of students from the Krieger School of
Arts and Sciences or the Whiting School of Engineering who
are concerned that they may be developing symptoms of SARS
should CALL the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC)
for advice (410-516-8270). To minimize any potential for
spread, they should NOT go to the SHWC unless instructed to
do so. When the SHWC is closed, the physician on call may
be contacted through Security at 410-516-7777. That
physician will provide instructions on how to proceed. On
Commencement Day (Thursday, May 22), the SHWC is closed.
Again, on that day, the on-call physician may be reached
If a guest from a SARS-affected country becomes ill during a Commencement ceremony at Homewood Field, he or she should go immediately to the physician station at the western end of Homewood Field near the scoreboard. At this station, the guest will be directed to the appropriate medical facility.
We have also finalized our plans for the balance of this
semester for evaluating any Arts and Sciences or
Engineering students concerned they may have SARS. Any such
students should call the SHWC during the day or the on-call
physician when the SHWC is closed. Again, to minimize any
potential for spread, students should NOT go to the Health
Center directly. Students will be given instructions on how
to proceed. Students who meet the screening criteria for
SARS will be transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital for a
more thorough evaluation.
Some students have asked whether the university has placed
restrictions on travel to SARS-affected countries. We
continue to recommend strongly that students, faculty and
staff follow the travel advisories issued by the CDC. As of
May 5, the CDC has issued travel advisories for mainland
China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan and recommends that
individuals postpone non-essential travel to these
countries. Travel advisories for Vietnam and for Toronto,
Canada, have been lifted. The CDC and WHO web sites update
their travel advice almost daily. Students should consult
these web sites for the very latest information.
We recognize that for some students, the decision about
whether to return home for the summer is a complicated one.
We want to assist in any way we can. Homewood students can
contact the Office of International Student/Scholar
Services (410-516-1013) or the Student Health and Wellness
Center for advice or information. We will help students
from SARS-affected countries who elect to remain in the
United States find suitable housing for the summer.
Assistance is available from the Office of Off-Campus
Housing. Interested students should contact Mireille Miller
The latest news about the SARS epidemic is encouraging.
Toronto, Canada, and Vietnam appear to have successfully
contained the epidemic. We hope for progress in other
countries as well. But until the epidemic is completely
contained, the university will take the necessary
precautions to safeguard the university community. Our
planning process has accelerated as Commencement approaches
but rest assured that it will continue as long as
Dean of Student Life
Alain Joffe, M.D.
Director, Student Health and Wellness Center
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