Updated Nov. 6, 2001

Editor's note: The university's incoming mail that was held the last week of October -- after the discovery of a very small amount of anthrax at the main Princeton post office in West Windsor -- is no longer on hold, as of Tuesday, Nov. 6. The United States Postal Service has determined that there is no need to decontaminate this mail. The post office building on Roszel Road in West Windsor reopened to the public on Monday, Nov. 5.


University experiences temporary disruptions in U.S. mail delivery

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The main Princeton post office in West Windsor, through which the University's U.S. mail is delivered, has been closed due to the discovery of a small amount of anthrax spores. The post office has established temporary facilities and is now delivering mail that never circulated through the closed facility. The University will deliver this new mail, but all mail placed on hold on Oct. 29 will continue to be held. Decisions about this mail will be made on a daily basis.

State health officials have assured us that the risks of mail being contaminated by contact with other mail or by passing through the main Princeton post office are very small and that there is no specific reason to be concerned about mail at the University. Nonetheless, we are taking the following steps in an attempt to ensure maximum safety.

  • All faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to review the updated advisory on opening mail that is posted on the University Web site. Please review these guidelines before opening mail.
  • More than 300 members of the University community have participated in mail handling training sessions. Participation has been required for staff members who handle mail in bins, bags or other bulk containers. Three more training sessions have been scheduled to take place in Frist 302 at noon Tuesday, Nov. 6; noon Wednesday, Nov. 7; and noon Friday, Nov. 9.
  • Any staff member who handles mail in bins, bags or other bulk containers -- either receiving it from the U.S. Post Office or distributing to an entire department or a number of offices -- must participate in one of the training programs. Department chairs and office heads are encouraged to make sure that all members of the staff who handle mail in bulk participate in a training session, and are especially encouraged to make this message available to anyone without access to e-mail.
  • Full-time and permanent part-time employees who have received training will be permitted to engage in mail distribution. Other part-time employees, including students, will not be permitted to engage in mail distribution at least through Nov. 9.
  • If you have unprocessed mail that you have received before Oct. 31, you should leave it on hold. New mail is being delivered and mail delivered in bulk may be distributed only after those distributing the mail have been trained.

The basic guideline for handling mail is to exercise caution. Be alert for anything suspicious; open mail away from your face; wash your hands with soap and flowing water after handling mail. If you have cuts on your hands, it may be prudent to wear gloves.

We do advise all members of the University community to be attentive to changes in their personal health. A skin rash or "flu-like" symptoms should be immediate cause for students to go to University Health Services or for faculty and staff to contact their personal physicians.

We will provide additional information on this and related matters on the University Web site as it becomes available, and we will update the anthrax and mail handling guidelines on a regular basis. If you have questions that are not answered by this message or the posted guidelines, please call the special response number, 8-7700.


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© 2001 The Trustees of Princeton University  Last modified 11/5/01