This fall, there has been heightened public attention surrounding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the related isolated cases that occurred in the U.S. Throughout this situation, the College has been proactively monitoring the international and domestic response to Ebola and its impact on college-related travel. The College’s International Risk Management Committee has met as needed this semester and has already been in direct contact with all students and employees whose travel may have impacted for J-Term. Although media coverage of the Ebola outbreak continues to slow, we want to assure the campus community that the Crisis Management Team and the International Risk Management Committee will continue to monitor this international health situation in a measured and proactive way.
The information below will help answer questions you may have about Ebola and the current state of Messiah College’s response.
Basic background questions about Ebola
Source: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a rare, often fatal disease in humans and some animals. It is caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains, named for the Ebola River in Africa where the virus was first discovered in 1976.
You can read more at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/about.html
What are the signs/symptoms of Ebola?
Symptoms of Ebola include:
- Fever (greater than 101.5°F or 38.6°C)
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected animals
Ebola is not spread through the air or, in general, by water or food, unless those items have been in direct contact with the items listed above. You can read more about the transmission of Ebola at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/qas.html
Messiah College community travel/international origin
Are Messiah College students and faculty currently traveling to areas where Ebola is most prevalent?
To the best of our knowledge, Messiah College does not currently have students, faculty or other employees on college-sponsored travel (i.e., cross-cultural/study abroad courses; foreign exchange; missions, research or other educational-related travel) to or from the three West African nations experiencing Ebola outbreaks (Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, or Sierra Leone). The College has also not sponsored any of this type of travel to these countries in the past 30 days or in the coming months. The closest countries where we have students or employees right now is in Rwanda and Uganda (neither of which border outbreak nations). Messiah College is daily monitoring the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s international travel advisories and our program partners there have comprehensive safety protocols and procedures in place should evacuation become necessary.
Are there any plans to cancel upcoming college-related travel to other West African countries—or to all African countries―as a precautionary measure?
Messiah College defines West Africa as a collection of 17 countries in the westernmost region of the African continent. They include: Benin, Burkina Faso, island of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.
As a precautionary measure, Messiah College has canceled J-term 2015 study-abroad trips to Ghana and Burkina Faso. Additionally, the College prohibits any student to travel to/from West Africa for college-related purposes until the outbreak is contained in that area, and declared as such by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Messiah College will allow trips outside West Africa to move forward, but will continue to closely monitor. If an Ebola case emerges in any country where we are sending students or currently have students, the College will automatically review country-specific experiences, with the College absorbing any potential financial loss of canceling the trip or bringing students home early.
How long is the outbreak going to last? Will it be safe to travel in the spring semester?
According to the CDC, it is impossible to predict with complete certainty how long an outbreak might last in West Africa. Colleges and universities should consider the likelihood that the outbreak could continue for months and that CDC’s recommendation to avoid non-essential travel may remain in place for as long as the outbreak lasts. This might mean not traveling to the affected area during the spring semester if the outbreak is still ongoing.
Messiah College will continue to monitor the outbreak in compliance with CDC and WHO recommendations and make plans for spring travel accordingly.
Are there any restrictions on Messiah students’ or employees’ personal travel at this time?
There is currently no College-imposed restriction on personal travel at this time. However, the College strongly urges students and employees to follow the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories and the CDC’s self-monitoring health guidelines when they travel domestically or abroad. Information for travelers can be found on the CDC’s website here.
What is Messiah’s plan of action should a student or employee traveling internationally begin showing signs and symptoms of Ebola?
Messiah College has a variety of protocols and practices in place to assist with students and employees who fall ill abroad, including:
- International medical insurance in partnership with FrontierMEDEX, which includes emergency medical and evacuation coverage
- Working closely with in-country partners who can provide immediate on-the-ground assistance in the event of illness
- Registering each participant with the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure diplomatic assistance should the need arise
- Institutional international crisis management team to help facilitate care
In the event a Messiah student or employee were to show signs and symptoms of Ebola while abroad, they would immediately report to the nearest healthcare facility, in partnership with FrontierMEDEX, to determine appropriate next steps with Messiah’s crisis management team, and in consultation with the US Embassy in country, as necessary.
Does Messiah College have any students who live in Ebola-affected areas of West Africa or other nearby countries?
Based on our records, we do not have any international, missionary or transcultural students from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone, the three countries in which there are currently Ebola outbreaks.
Messiah’s emergency response
How is Messiah College responding to the international Ebola outbreak and recent cases in the U.S.?
In response to the first human-to-human transmission of Ebola in the United States (as of October 13, 2014), Messiah College’s Crisis Management Team began meeting regularly to:
- establish a monitoring plan;
- identify CDC best practices to apply to our community;
- develop a communication strategy as needed for students, employees, parents and the community;
- and identify potential risks from College-related international travel and determine appropriate risk-management. The College’s International Risk Management Committee has met to process decisions for college-related travel this fall and has already been in direct communication with students, their families, and employees whose travel plans were directly impacted by precautions taken as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
In the rare instance a student, employee or visitor on campus was at risk for Ebola and began to show symptoms, what is the College’s protocol for quarantine and treatment?
In the interest of safety to the Messiah College community, if a student, employee or faculty member believes they’ve been exposed to Ebola and is showing symptoms, the following protocol would be in effect:
- The individual should call the Engle Center at ext. 6035. If it is after-hours, he or she should follow the prompts to speak with the on-call nurse. Engle Center staff will triage appropriately. This may include keeping the individual where they are (isolated) until further instruction or going to the Engle Center, depending on circumstances.
- Upon triage and if Ebola exposure is suspected, the Engle Center will contact the PA Department of Health for next steps.
How will the campus be notified if a student, faculty member or employee is suspected of having Ebola?
Messiah College will communicate all necessary safety information to students and employees through established channels such as mass email, the College hotline, the website and its emergency blog as detailed at http://www.messiah.edu/info/20297/students/1284/emergency_communication.
For additional CDC resources and information on Ebola visit http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/
There are no current emergencies on Messiah College’s campuses.
A Message to the Messiah College Community Following Hurricane Sandy from President Kim Phipps
As president, I want to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for the way that the Messiah College community has responded to Hurricane Sandy and all of its related challenges—not only during the storm, but in the proactive planning and response to this historic weather event. A hallmark of the Messiah community has always been the way that we work together and care for one another in difficult times—and that has certainly been exhibited in the events of the past several days.
Messiah’s Crisis Management Team, led by Vice President for Operations Kathie Shafer, has prepared and responded admirably to the challenges of Hurricane Sandy, keeping our campus community secure and well-informed. This team represents an effective partnership between numerous campus departments, and they met frequently in the days leading up to, during and following the storm to plan and make the necessary (and often difficult) decisions to keep our campus safe.
Students cooperated with the safety instructions from their residence staff and other College personnel and responded with patience and good-spirit to the hurricane-related schedule changes and inconveniences. (I’ve enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the photos of the creative ways that students and residence life employees found to pass the time!)
Essential employees in Campus Events, Dining Services, Facility Services, Safety, and Residence Life exhibited selfless dedication in the way they cared for the needs of our students and physical campus environment. The majority of these individuals were on campus around-the-clock for several days, spending time away from their own families in the height of the storm to protect the wellbeing of our students.
Alumni, parents and community friends prayed for the safety and protection of our students, employees and campus—and we deeply appreciate their prayer support.
As a community, may we continue to pray for those individuals, families and neighborhoods who are dealing with the overwhelming loss and destruction from this devastating storm.
Kim S. Phipps
Thank you to all students and employees for your patience and cooperation during the storm and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. PP&L was able to restore power to the affected buildings on campus late Tuesday afternoon. The Grantham Campus will re-open at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 and all classes and college activities will resume normal operations. All essential and non-essential employees should report to work according to their regular schedules.
For the remainder of Tuesday evening, Oct. 30:
- All evening classes and activities remain cancelled.
- Eisenhower Campus Center and the Sollenberger Sports Center will close following dinner service.
- All other campus buildings (with the exception of student residences and the Larsen Student Union) will remain closed throughout Tuesday evening so that facilities and safety personnel can conduct general maintenance and safety walk-throughs of campus facilities prior to re-opening Wednesday morning.
For Wednesday, Oct. 31:
- Dining: Lottie Nelson Dining Hall will resume its normal hours (with a modified menu); Union Café will open at 12 noon (with a limited menu). The Falcon will remain closed on Wednesday, but all dining venues are scheduled to reopen with regular hours and menus effective Thursday, Nov. 1.
- Maintenance issues: If employees notice leaks or other storm-related maintenance issues when returning to their offices and work spaces, they should report them to Facilities Services after 7:30 a.m. at ext. 6011.
- Traffic and parking: Due to rising flood water and debris, the South Entrance of campus, Creekside Drive, Starry Athletic Complex and the Art Warehouse (Mill House) remain off limits to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic until further notice. Commuter students should park in the visitor parking lot (between Old Main and Eisenhower Campus Center).
- Vehicle fleet: The College’s fleet vehicle travel will resume at 6 a.m.
When will the power be restored on campus?
The College is in ongoing conversation with PP&L, but they have been unable to give us an estimate of when power will be restored. We will keep students and employees informed as we learn more.
How long will campus be closed?
The decision to re-open campus and resume classes and campus activities hinges on the restoration of power to the affected academic buildings. PP&L has not been able to give us an estimate of when power will be restored, so we do not know at this time when it will be safe to re-open campus.
What caused the power outage and do we expect further power loss?
Overnight a tree fell across Mill Road and knocked down power lines affecting many of the academic buildings on campus. Given the forecasts for more rain, wind and winter weather today, it is difficult to speculate whether additional power outages will affect our campus.
Did the campus sustain any damage from Hurricane Sandy?
Thankfully Messiah did not sustain any major damage; however, the campus has experienced some minor leaks in residence halls and academic and administrative buildings, which are already being repaired. The Yellow Breeches Creek has swelled over its banks but is not disrupting campus roadways. Facilities and safety personnel continue to monitor all campus buildings on an ongoing basis.
Is there enough food to keep Lottie open?
Lottie Nelson Dining Hall remains supplied and prepared to feed students three meals a day on a limited menu basis. Dining Services is currently utilizing a refrigerated truck and is being supplied by its vendors. Dining Services is able to use Larsen Student Union to prepare hot meals on an ongoing basis.
Will students have to make up the missed classes due to this storm?
The Provost’s Office is currently in planning regarding scheduling any necessary make-up classes due to further prolonged class cancellations and will communicate their decisions as they develop.
Are students able to leave campus and go home?
Messiah is currently prepared to care for students while they remain on campus. Students are not prohibited from leaving campus if they and their family feel it’s in their best interest. If a student does opt to leave, he/she should inform a roommate or RA of his/her plans. However, once classes are back in session, students are expected to return campus.
Will the campus continue to have Wi-Fi?
We are currently able to power the College’s wireless system on a generator. As long as we have fuel for the generator—and we anticipate that we will barring any unforeseen circumstances—the wireless should remain available for students.
Who is caring for students during this campus closure?
Members of the College’s dining services, safety, facilities management, and residence life staff—all of whom are trained to assist in an emergency—have been on campus 24/7 to ensure that the needs of students are being cared for during and in the aftermath of this storm. Today, Tuesday, October 30, residence life and Student Activity Board are coordinating a variety of activities to help students pass the time.
Local weather forecasts for today continue to call for rain, gusty winds and potential for snow or a wintry mix. The brunt of Hurricane Sandy has thankfully moved out of the area, but as you know, the storm has had an impact on our campus. Power remains out in most of the academic buildings, and while Lottie Nelson Dining Room has ongoing provisions to continue to serve meals to students, it is doing so with a limited menu and the limited hours of: breakfast from 7-9 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and dinner from 4-7 p.m.
The Larsen Student Union will open from 1 p.m.-1 a.m. today as a gathering place for students; and student offices in that space will also be open (although the Union Café will remain closed.)
PP&L has not yet been able to give the College an estimate on when power will be restored to the affected areas of campus. This is critical information for the College’s decision about when classes and activities can resume. We will provide an update on the decision about tomorrow’s schedule and operations later this evening.
The College has been in ongoing communication with employees and students at the Harrisburg and Philadelphia Campuses, and we are pleased to report that both campuses have power and everyone is safe.
Students are asked to be mindful and aware of the following:
• The Yellow Breeches Creek, Starry Athletic Complex, South Entrance and the Millhouse all remain off limits due to flooding and dangerous conditions.
• While outdoors and on the road, please be aware of inclement weather, debris, flooded areas and other potential hazardous conditions.
• Professors may be in contact with students today via email and Sakai regarding academic work and assignments.
• The Provost’s Office is currently in planning regarding scheduling any necessary make-up classes due to further prolonged class cancellations.
We realize that there have been inconveniences and challenges for our campus associated with this hurricane. However, we are thankful for the safety of our students and employees—and for the dedication of the staff in Dining Services, Facilities Services, Safety, and Residence Life who have remained on campus 24/7 to care for the security, welfare and needs of our campus community. Please continue to pray for the victims of this historic storm that has brought such widespread destruction and loss of life.
Campus buildings without power:
Eisenhower Campus Center
Climenhaga Fine Arts Center
The National Weather Service continues to predict the most severe impact of Hurricane Sandy in our local area as lasting this afternoon through tomorrow morning. The most immediate risks for campus remain potential flooding, storm debris and loss of power.
If the campus, or part of the campus, were to lose power, the College’s protocol is to immediately contact PP&L and to contact the campus community via the text alert system with relevant instructions. [In the event of a power loss, text communication remains the most reliable. To sign up, go to http://www.messiah.edu/divisions/operations/.] The College’s Crisis Management Team will convene to assess the specific situation and then communicate more detailed instructions to the campus community.
Due to the anticipated volume of power outages, PP&L would likely not be able to provide the College with an assessment/timeframe for repairs for at least several hours. In the interim, below are some helpful things for all students to be aware of to help ensure a safe campus environment:
- Safety and Residence Life personnel will immediately secure each of the residence halls and apartment buildings.
- If the power were to go out, it is important to remain calm and await further instructions from the College and your RA or RD.
- As an important reminder—no candles or open flames are permitted in campus buildings.
- During a power loss, the manner or method in which Dining Services feeds students may need to be adjusted, but students would receive detailed instructions from their residence staff and/or college communication.
College officials continue to monitor the storm in conjunction with federal, state and local authorities and will provide ongoing instructions—including a decision about tomorrow’s (Tuesday, Oct. 30) classes and college operations—by 9 p.m. this evening.