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COVID-19: Coronavirus Information

Latest Update

Website updated: April 8 (8:15 p.m.)

On April 8, the University sent out its COVID-19 weekly community newsletter. The electronic newsletter for the campus community — faculty, staff, researchers, postdocs and students — provides a summary of the latest guidance and updates shared on this website; public health guidance and policies affecting our campus and community, on-campus and off; as well as a sampling of stories of Tigers “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.” In this week’s edition, you can get up to speed about the upcoming virtual town hall for staff and faculty with President Christopher L. Eisgruber and University leadership; a budget update from Provost Deborah Prentice; a new remote testing service for employees; the launch of the website tigershelping.princeton.edu and the tireless work of staff across campus; the CDC’s latest guidance on face masks; and the upcoming blood drives to support our community.

Website updated: April 8 (1:30 p.m.)

On April 8, Provost Debbie Prentice sent an email message to all Princeton University faculty and staff:

Dear Princeton University faculty and staff,

Thank you for the work that you have done over the past weeks to support our students and your faculty and staff colleagues under circumstances that none of us could have imagined when this semester began. Even with the disruptions of the past month, the University continues to meet its scholarly mission, and that would not have been possible without all of you. 

At a time when we are all seeking clarity, much remains uncertain about the current crisis.  We do not know when we will be able to resume normal operations nor when our students will be able to resume their educational activities on campus. It also remains unclear how the current health emergency will impact the fall semester.

We also don’t know what the ultimate operational and budgetary impacts of this crisis will be on the University. This unprecedented public health emergency has precipitated a period of economic uncertainty, touching every corner of our nation. Economic conditions have been fundamentally altered in a matter of weeks, and universities across the country are having to reassess every aspect of their operations. 

Princeton is not immune from these challenges, and we will have to make some hard choices in the weeks and months ahead. That said, because of our strong endowment, the generosity of our community, and the work of many of you, we are fortunate to face these new challenges from a solid budgetary position. This will not spare us from the need to make difficult reductions and tradeoffs, but it does buy us time to evaluate the evolving situation and make major decisions in a more thoughtful, measured way.

Even with these advantages, however, there are a few critical moves that we must make now in response to the economic reality we currently face. The impacts of this crisis are real, and we need to start addressing them immediately.

First, we are suspending faculty and staff salary increases, except where required by previous agreement, including in relation to faculty promotion and retention. Because of the immediate impacts of this crisis, this will also include this spring’s Merit Increase Pool.

Second, we are carefully managing staffing levels to sustain our current workforce for as long as possible. Our goal is to protect the positions of those currently working at Princeton. That means that all requests for new permanent and term positions and hires, including filling open vacancies, will be approved on an exceptional basis only — and the bar will be high. 

In addition to our regular employees, at any given time there is also a limited number of temporary hourly, casual and contracted positions working across our campus. This period is no different. Through the end of this semester, managers should continue to use their existing resources and usual discretion when it comes to retaining these positions. We will not be able, however, to guarantee support for all of these positions over the long term. Understanding that our operating picture will look very different heading into the summer, we are asking managers to start planning now for a decreased dependence on these positions beginning June 2. 

Third, we are asking all managers to look for ways to better leverage existing staff whose primary responsibilities cannot be fulfilled under our current “stay at home” order and social distancing protocols. This may require some of you to take on new tasks and functions for the time being. We appreciate your flexibility during this unusual period.

Finally, we are asking units across campus to cut all non-essential spending. We do not know how long this health emergency will last, and we do not know how deep the economic impacts will be. Every dollar we can save now will give us more flexibility to support our core priorities as the long-term economic picture becomes clearer. Each one of us can make a difference when it comes to spending. If you see areas where we can save, please raise them to your manager. All ideas are welcome, and no amount of savings is too small for us to pursue.

As we continue looking across the University for savings, our focus will remain on four key priorities — ensuring the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff; restoring our teaching and research activities to normal operations, safely but as soon as possible; sustaining our commitments to access and affordability; and retaining and supporting our talented workforce.

Over the coming weeks, the central administration will be working with departments, centers and operating areas across campus to find more ways to reduce costs and adjust our operations to meet the world we now live in. Make no mistake, we will all have to tighten our belts, but we will do so based on the best data available and grounded in those guiding priorities. 

Later today, the Office of Human Resources and the Dean of the Faculty’s office will distribute further guidance to heads of offices, departments and academic units on how we will implement these new directives. We will continue to communicate with all of you as major decisions are made and will continue to share the financial realities and the thought process behind those decisions. 

Thank you again for your continued commitment to Princeton and your professionalism during these trying times. 

Best wishes,

Debbie Prentice

Website updated: April 8 (10:50 a.m.)

As of Wednesday, April 8, Princeton’s University Health Services (UHS) reports they are aware of the cases detailed below. Please remember, if students, faculty, or staff are tested for coronavirus, in any jurisdiction, they must contact UHS at communityhealth@princeton.edu. No one should wait for results; they should reach out to UHS directly as soon as they are tested.

The University will continue to provide regular updates on the number of tests and cases involving community members which UHS is aware of. These numbers, especially those involving students who no longer reside on campus, are based on self-reporting.  

Students

99 students have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 18 students tested were on campus and 81 were elsewhere.

On-campus students (18)

  • 3 students tested positive. Of those: 1 met the clinical criteria for discontinuation of isolation and is off campus; 2 met the clinical criteria for discontinuation of isolation and returned to regular on campus housing.
  • 11 students tested negative and were able to discontinue isolation and return to their previous housing arrangements.
  • students are awaiting test results. Of those: 2 remain in isolation; 2 discontinued isolation according to clinical criteria.

Off-campus students (81)

  • 39 students tested positive and are receiving appropriate treatment.
  • 37 students tested negative.
  • 5 tests are still pending.

Employees

48 employees have been tested for COVID-19. Of those:

  • 16 have tested positive. Of which: 8 have recovered and discontinued isolation; 8 are in their respective homes in self-isolation and receiving appropriate treatment.
  • 21 have tested negative.
  • 10 tests are pending results.
  • 1 had resulted inconclusive and the employee will not be retested.

This update is as of April 8 at 8:30 a.m. The University will continue to report regularly to the community on these developments.

Website updated: April 7 (6 p.m.)

University leadership is hosting a webinar with President Christopher L. Eisgruber for staff from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 9, using Zoom. Staff are invited listen to President Eisgruber and others discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the campus community.

Due to technical limitations, attendance is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. The session will be recorded and posted online later that evening for all to access. 

University staff may register here: https://princeton.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1YilMCIhQLOoZhSclD1IjA

Staff can email questions in advance to townhall@princeton.edu. Time permitting, a limited number of questions will be accepted through the Zoom Webinar question and answer function.

On April 7, Human Resources emailed all benefits-eligible faculty and staff members that they and their eligible dependents now have access to VitalCheck-Doctors in Your Office, a resource available to conduct screening and, if appropriate, facilitate testing for COVID-19. The cost is covered 100% by their health insurance. Employees need not be enrolled in a Princeton medical plan to utilize this service. 

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19 as described by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.

If individuals think they may have COVID-19 and would like to discuss their symptoms or exposures with a doctor, book an appointment through the VitalCheck—Doctors in Your Office website. The doctor will screen them, advise them about the symptoms to which they should be alert, offer next steps to avoid getting the virus, and suggest how to avoid passing it onto loved ones. 

If the individual meets specific criteria, VitalCheck—Doctors in Your Office will send them a coronavirus lab kit. This is not a home test kit; it is a lab test, the same test that is conducted at state public drive-through stations. A physician will call to guide the individual and oversee the collection of the specimen and process for delivery of the specimen to the lab. Results are being returned within 48–72 hours. 

If employees are being tested for COVID-19, or someone in their household is being tested for COVID-19, please notify UHS by emailing communityhealth@princeton.edu so UHS can begin contact tracing.

For more information, read the Employee Testing section on the staff and faculty FAQ pages of this website, as well as the Human Resources website

April 3 update: 

The CDC has updated its guidance to recommend the use of cloth face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The guidance also clarifies that this recommendation is to use cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N95 masks, as those are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

April 2 update:

The University has launched a new COVID-19 Community newsletter focusing on public health guidance and policies affecting our campus and community, on-campus and off, as well as a sampling of stories of Tigers “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.” The electronic newsletter provides a summary of the latest guidance and updates shared on this website. The first edition was sent to faculty, staff, researchers, postdocs and students on April 1 and will be emailed to the campus community weekly. 

April 1 update: 

On April 1, University Health Services announced updates to the Student Health Plan regarding referrals, coverage for COVID-19-related care, and coverage for telehealth visits. The changes are intended to make it easier for individuals on the Student Health Plan to receive services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The changes apply to undergraduate students, graduate students and student dependents enrolled in the Student Health Plan for the 2019-20 plan year. More information on the Student Health Plan’s recent updates is available on the University Health Services website.

March 30 update:

On March 30, University Health Services (UHS) said it will continue its temporary suspension of operations in its overnight infirmary until it can be properly staffed. This suspension began March 23 and is a precautionary public health intervention related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its continued effect on UHS staffing. As stated previously, the suspension is not a reflection of any change in the current status of public health policy on campus or in the community.

UHS will remain open Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.).  After hours and on weekends, on-call coverage and consultation will also remain available. If you do not feel well (have a fever, cough, trouble breathing) or otherwise have an urgent health concern, you can continue to contact UHS at 609-258-3141. UHS will also continue to offer COVID-19 testing to students who have a fever (99.6 or higher), cough, and shortness of breath. If you have been tested for COVID-19 in any jurisdiction, please inform UHS of this at communityhealth@princeton.edu. If you have non-COVID-19-related, non-emergency questions, you may also consult with UHS by emailing AskHealth@princeton.edu during business hours and they will respond within 48 hours. UHS is not currently offering routine healthcare appointments for students on campus as they continue to focus their efforts on COVID-19 prevention and response. View the full announcement on the UHS website.

March 29 update:

On Saturday, March 28, the CDC issued a Domestic Travel Advisory for New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. This advisory aligns with earlier New Jersey ‘stay at home’ orders and University policies regarding travel. Previous policies and practices implemented by the University already meet the standards laid out in the new advisory, so it requires no additional action by students, faculty, or staff. Members of our community should continue to refrain from all non-essential travel, and to comply with New Jersey and surrounding states’ ‘stay at home’ provisions, which allow for staff to travel to and from the University for work as needed.

We ask every member of the Princeton University community, whether on campus or elsewhere, to continue doing all they can to help slow the spread of this pandemic, including careful hand-washing, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. Please remember, if you are tested for coronavirus, no matter where you are tested, you should immediately notify UHS by emailing communityhealth@princeton.edu.

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Acts of bias, discrimination, and harassment run counter to our University values and Princeton’s policies, including Respect for Others and our nondiscrimination policies, as well as our Statement on Diversity and Community.

Princeton University is committed to maintaining an educational, working and living environment that is free of all forms of discrimination and where every member can thrive. It is essential that each of us uphold and demonstrate these core values of dignity and respect. We encourage you to communicate these values to your staff and colleagues.

Public Health Guidance

We encourage all members of the University community to employ the following social distancing techniques:

  • Keep at least six feet between yourself and another person in all public places including the library, dining halls, Frist, Prospect House, etc.
  • Avoid close contact, including handshakes and hugging.
  • Limit in-person meetings.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
Avoid close contact, limit in-person meetings, keep 6 feet between you and others

Prevention measures are similar to those utilized against the common cold and flu. Those measures include frequent hand washing and avoiding touching one's face with unwashed hands. 

Avoid touching your face
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds

 

The CDC does not recommend the use of surgical masks by people who are well. Those who are ill should consult a healthcare provider about using a surgical mask to reduce the spread of their illness. The University is conducting more frequent cleaning in common areas and on commonly touched surfaces, including in dining and housing spaces.

Stay at home when you are sick except to seek medical attention
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Below are links to University Health Services handouts that explain social distancing, isolation and quarantine, as well as recognizing COVID-19 symptoms, and what to do if you think you might have the disease.


If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and please call in advance.

  • Undergraduate and graduate students on campus – call University Health Services at 609-258-3141.
  • Students off campus - contact your primary care provider or local urgent care center. If you are tested for coronavirus, you must notify UHS by emailing  communityhealth@princeton.edu so UHS can begin contact tracing. 
  • Employees – contact your primary care provider or local urgent care center. If you are tested for coronavirus, you must notify UHS by emailing  communityhealth@princeton.edu so UHS can begin contact tracing. 

The following is specific guidance from University Health Services on what to do if you have tested positive for COVID-19, come into contact with someone else who has tested positive, or have symptoms of COVID-19 for:

Any questions should be emailed to UHS at communityhealth@princeton.edu.

Classes and Research

Classes

To facilitate social distancing, all lectures, seminars and precepts will move to virtual instruction beginning Monday, March 23 and remain virtual through the end of Spring 2020, including exams.   

Faculty have received guidance and recommendations on online delivery methods for their courses. The McGraw Center will provide support to faculty, as detailed on its website, including instructional strategies, available tools and recommended best practices. 

Dean of the College Jill Dolan sent an email to undergraduates on March 19 with information about learning continuity, grading and other academic resources for virtual instruction for the remainder of spring 2020 semester. 

Public health officials advise that it’s crucial to reduce density on campus. Moving to virtual instruction will allow the University to decrease the potential health risk to the larger community, and the easier it will be to care for those who may become ill and to manage the eventual impact of this virus.  

Research

The latest University guidance regarding academic research, including lab research on campus, is detailed in frequently asked questions on the Princeton Research website

The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) has also compiled a list of frequently asked questions related to sponsored research.

Events and Meetings

Campus events cancelation information: 

All campus events are canceled following Governor Murphy's state-wide "stay at home" order issued on March 21.

In-person meetings are strongly discouraged. Meeting organizers should use remote technology whenever possible, including substituting conference calls and phone conversations for in person meetings. Meetings that must take place should use social distancing best practices.

Princeton remains operational with remote classes starting March 23, and essential staff who perform critical services continue to support undergraduate and graduate students who have been approved to remain on campus. 

On March 20, Alumni Engagement, University Advancement, announced that the 2020 annual Reunions event, traditionally held the weekend prior to Commencement, will not be held this year. For the full announcement, please visit the Alumni Engagement website and the Reunions website.

From the announcement: “In partnership with our public health officials and alumni leaders, we have made the difficult decision that Reunions will not take place as planned this May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we will miss this opportunity to gather with generations of Princetonians and family members for our flagship alumni event, we have determined that convening 25,000 people on campus for a large-scale, celebratory event — particularly one that relies on the dedication of hundreds of student employees and countless alumni volunteers — is not possible or prudent at this time. We felt it important to share our decision on Reunions as soon as possible so that classes and individuals can plan accordingly.”

Online events for the greater Princeton community:

Academic and campus life departments, centers, and programs are offering a variety of virtual and online lectures, music, religious services and other programming. This is a brief sampling.

The following events are free and open to the public:

Princeton University Concerts (PUC) offers an evolving list of free streaming resources, and invites the public to join its virtual concert hall on Spotify as part of its new Collaborative Listening Project. PUC hopes both initiatives might help fill your social distancing with music!

The Office of Religious Life offers a daily 10-minute guided meditation with Dean Matt Weiner at 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, via Zoom.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is now offering a number of virtual events and activities including online dance classes, a series of conversations with theater makers, and guest artist talks open to the University community, with more opportunities being planned. Stay up to date by signing up to receive a weekly email of coming events.

Princeton University Chapel’s Sunday services will be videotaped and may be viewed online at Sunday Chapel Service. The services will remain archived, so everyone may return to them whenever they might find that to be helpful.

Princeton University Art Museum is pleased to offer online lectures  and highlights of current exhibitions.

Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) is pleased to offer online events. Check PEI’s event calendar for details.

Yiyun Li, professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, invites readers to participate in her virtual book club Tolstoy Together. Inspired by the solidity and structure that “War and Peace” provides in these unsettling times, the novel offers “a moment each day when we can gather together as a community.”

The Humanities Council is pleased to offer a range of thought-provoking talks, lectures and online events. Check the event calendar for details.

The departments and centers of the School of Engineering and Applied Science continue to offer online events. See the listings here and sign up for the school’s weekly events newsletter.

The following events are for the University community only:

The John H. Pace ’39 Center for Civic Engagement has curated a number of tips, resources, information and ideas to virtually respond and engage.

Led by Campus Life units and facilitated by the Office of Wintersession and Campus Engagement (OWCE), this page contains resources for Princeton undergraduate and graduate students to reduce social isolation and encourage connections while on-campus opportunities are suspended due to COVID-19 precautions.

Travel Update

As of 5 p.m. EDT March 14, the University has asked all students studying abroad to return to their permanent residence by March 23, 2020. This is an expansion of the University’s previous suspension of study abroad programs in Europe, China and other countries following travel restrictions issued by the federal government and the declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The University continues to work with students on arrangements to return to their permanent residences and to help defray travel costs, as well as to discuss future academic options and accommodations.  

The University announced March 12 it was suspending operations at the five international Bridge Year Program sites, with a proposed departure date for students of March 20. The University continues to work directly with the approximately 40 students and their families on travel arrangements for the students to return to their residences.

All University-sponsored international travel is prohibited, and all personal international travel is strongly discouraged. Non-essential University-sponsored domestic travel should be postponed or canceled. These restrictions will not apply to University-sponsored travel required to return to campus by community members who are currently studying or working remotely. 

We understand that some individuals and academic/administrative units are already planning University-sponsored international and domestic travel for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.  Given the significant uncertainty, we encourage you to delay or postpone such plans. If you must make plans, please pay close attention to cancellation and refund policies and change fees.  

All students, faculty and staff returning from impacted countries (CDC Warning Level 3 and Warning Level 2 countries as well as USDOS Level 4 and Level 3 countries) must fill out the For Returning Travelers (COVID-19) online form before their return. This is both for those on University-sponsored and personal travel.

CDC Travel Notices by Country with Level Definitions

DOS Travel Advisories with Level Definitions

Resources

University Resources

External Resources

University Communications

Princeton has sent out a series of announcements to update the University community regarding coronavirus. This list will be updated as further communications are sent.

Latest Updates Archive

Previous daily updates that were posted to the top of this coronavirus website have been archived online for reference.