COVID-19: What you should know before you leave for spring break

New information will be posted on this blog as it is made available. Please check this blog frequently, as information related to this issue is changing rapidly. The College will also launch a newly updated FAQ page for COVID-19 by 5 p.m. on March 10, 2020.

Note: Messiah College does not have any reported or confirmed cases of the COVID-2019 Novel Coronavirus as of the time and date of this posting.

Do I need to register my spring break travel with the College?

FOR ALL STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES: Messiah strongly encourages any student or employee who is traveling domestically and internationally during spring break (including students who are traveling home) to fill out this travel form (Click “Apply Now” to begin the form; then select “OK”) so we can support returning travelers and safeguard the community as much as possible. Those participating in a spring break trips with The Collaboratory, Agape Center, AROMA trip or POLI 370 have already registered and do not need to fill out this form.

Please Note: this form is not for the purpose of the College’s approval of student and employee travel. Rather, this information will be useful if the CDC or PA Department of Health recommends future restrictions or quarantines that require the College to contact people who may have visited certain areas.

What else should I do before leaving for spring break?

IMPORTANT INFO FOR STUDENTS – While the College has not made the decision to move classes online at this point, while you are away from spring break, there may be developments with the spread of COVID-19 that could affect your ability to return to campus. To be prepared, when you leave for spring break, please take with you all essentials you would need in the event you could not return to campus for a prolonged period of time, or would need to conduct online coursework remotely, i.e., laptops, chargers, textbooks/course materials, medications, valuables, etc.

We ask you to continue to monitor your email for updates and be fully aware that travel restrictions and guidance for colleges and universities are frequently changing based on advice from the PA Department of Health and the CDC. If you are not already signed up to receive Messiah’s text alerts, please do so, as the College will use this resource to communicate important information quickly to students and employees. How to sign up for text alerts.

NEW CDC TRAVEL GUIDELINES: This week, the CDC issued additional travel guidelines for individuals who have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or other immunocompromised conditions. Messiah College strongly recommends that students and employees with these underlying conditions refrain from non-essential travel and follow the CDC guidelines in this regard. You may view them here.

Is the College currently regulating travel of students and employees?

College-sponsored international travel:

    • Currently, Messiah is only restricting this type of travel in regions that are CDC Warning Level 2 or 3 for COVID-19. The College is monitoring this situation closely and will respond accordingly.
    • International spring break trips outside of these warning regions are currently permitted to continue.
    • Decisions regarding all other college-funded international travel, including May Term, summer trips and International Business Institute will be made no later than April 1.
    • All students and employees traveling internationally should follow the CDC’s preventative safety measures regarding COVID-19 and monitor the CDC’s travel website.
    • Employees, educators and students should be aware that if you have been potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus during your travel, you are required to self- quarantine and not return to campus for at least 14 days. Individuals in this situation should contact the Engle Center to make an appointment once they are able to return to campus to be evaluated before resuming their normal employee or student routine.

 What does Messiah mean by “college-sponsored” travel?

Messiah is using the term “college-sponsored travel” or “college-funded travel” to refer to any travel by students or employees that is paid for, either in part or in whole, by Messiah funding. Common examples include academic, service and missions trips coordinated through the Intercultural Office or through other college departments or programs, and employee and educator professional conferences, presentations, events, etc.

 Personal international travel:

  • All students and employees should be aware that all travel outside of the U.S. is currently a risk due the rapidly changing and unpredictable course of the COVID-19 spread.
  • As a result, any member of the campus community who travels internationally should be aware that if they travel to a region that is currently on the CDC Warning Level 2 or 3 lists—or to a region that is added to those lists during their travel—they are required to self-quarantine following their return to the U.S. off campus for 14 days before returning to Messiah. Therefore, Messiah strongly recommends that employees and students avoid non-essential travel to countries on this list. Individuals in this situation should contact the Engle Center to make an appointment once they are able to return to campus to be evaluated before resuming their normal employee or student routine.
  • All students and employees traveling internationally should follow the CDC’s preventative safety measures regarding COVID-19 and monitor the CDC’s travel website.

 What does Messiah mean by “personal” travel?

“Personal” travel refers to travel, either domestically or internationally, that is paid for entirely by students and employees and is not organized or sponsored by Messiah College.

 Domestic travel:

  • At this time, the college is not restricting domestic travel for college-funded or personal travel.
  • Educators, staff and students who are scheduled to travel domestically either for personal reasons or to attend conferences or travel on behalf of the college for business or educational reasons should be following the recommendations of the CDC and previous emails from the Engle Center providing guidelines for self-care.
  • Employees, educators and students should be aware that if you have been potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus during your travel, you are required to self-quarantine and not return to campus for at least 14 days. Individuals in this situation should contact the Engle Center to make an appointment once they are able to return to campus to be evaluated before resuming their normal employee or student routine.
  • All students and employees traveling domestically should follow the CDC’s preventative safety measures regarding COVID-19 and monitor the CDC’s travel website.

How is Messiah making decisions related whether or not to allow certain trips and travel to continue?

Messiah College’s Crisis Management Team and International Risk Management Committee have been monitoring the international and domestic response to COVID-19, and have been taking proactive steps to guide decisions related to college-related travel and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and employees. The College is taking into account the directives and recommendations from national and state health agencies, including the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We are also in ongoing communication with our host sites and program partners, both internationally and domestically, to gather their input on their local health situations, resources and advisories.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Because all suspected cases of COVID-19 must be reported to the PA Department of Health, any student who is experiencing flu-like symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should contact the Engle Center at 717-691-6035 to report the illness and make an appointment.  Employees who experience these symptoms should contact their own health care provider for treatment, but are also asked to contact the Engle Center  so that they may coordinate overall reporting for our campus community.

Messiah’s ongoing response

President’s Cabinet, Crisis Management Team and the International Risk Management Committee continue to monitor this international health situation in a measured and proactive way, and will continue to communicate to campus as planning and decisions progress.

For additional CDC resources and information on Coronavirus, visit
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.