Mason Responds: Global Coronavirus/COVID-19 Outbreak
George Mason University is monitoring the situation closely and following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
As new information about the outbreak and potential impact on the Mason community becomes available, the university will provide updates via email. For an overview of Mason’s plans, guidelines, and actions, see our Coronavirus page.
We’ll also post information on the evolving situation and recommendations and instructions for students, faculty, and staff.
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Mason is maintaining all university services; however, some may be modified to allow social distancing. The university will offer virtual services on an as-needed basis to students who don’t return to campus during this time.
Students, Faculty, and Staff with High Risks of COVID-19 Complications
If you are a student, faculty, or staff member with a medical condition that compromises your immune system, or have a severe chronic health or other condition that puts you at risk for coronavirus complications, consult your primary care provider for guidance on precautions that you should take.
Faculty and staff at high risk should discuss alternate work arrangements (telework, flexwork, or other accommodations) with their supervisor to avoid potential exposures at work. Supervisors with questions about telework should discuss telework requests with Employee Relations. There is also an FAQ section for employees and supervisors on the main Coronavirus page.
Preparation, Planning, and Guidance
With the possibility of facing a self-quarantine or limited access to goods and services, preparing now could reduce the chance of problems later.
The Virginia Department of Health has created a checklist of steps to reduce the impact of an outbreak.
University Sponsored/Related Travel
Mason has suspended all university-authorized international and domestic travel for students, faculty and staff effective Monday, March 16 through at least April 10. Exceptions can be granted on a case by case basis in accordance with Policy 1134; however, travelers must be able to demonstrate a compelling and necessary reason to travel.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared no out-of-state travel, with some exceptions, for Northern Virginia. Mason is allowing travel within 100 miles of Mason’s campuses so long as travel does not require overnight accommodations, extensive public transportation, or commercial transportation.
Responding to Sick Students
If a student reports an illness, faculty should encourage them to take the time they need to get well and advise the student to contact Student Health Services at 703-993-2831 if they suspect that their illness is a result of exposure to coronavirus.
Mason has extended spring break through March 20, and when spring break ends, most classes will be conducted through virtual alternative instruction, from Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3.
Students Returning from Abroad
In observance of CDC guidance, all students and employees returning from CDC Level 3 countries (European Union, China, South Korea, and Iran) must self-
isolate for 14 days upon their return and may not come to campus for 14 days upon their return to the U.S Students are encouraged to self-isolate at their personal residence, if they can. If they are unable to return home and must reside on campus, they should contact Housing and Residence Life staff at 703-993-1000 to report their need to self-isolate Employees subject to this requirement must contact Employee Relations at 703-993-2600 to discuss your return to campus.
The university is putting these precautions in place to ensure that returning travelers receive appropriate support.
Fairfax administrators and Mason Korea hold regular discussions to coordinate response efforts.
Mason Korea is providing virtual instruction to students through April 6, 2020, in accordance with South Korean Government recommendations.
If a Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4 is issued for South Korea, U.S. students will be required to return to the U.S. and provided travel assistance.
The status of other international students will be determined in accordance with their home country and home institution guidance.
The university is discussing plans to provide online instruction to Mason Korea students if an evacuation is required. The Mason Korea website features additional information about their actions and plans.
Continuity of Operations
George Mason University maintains a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), which provides a framework to minimize the potential impact of an emergency and facilitate the rapid recovery to normal or sustainable operations.
The university is currently reviewing plans to be better prepared for potential disruptions to campus operations that might result from the coronavirus outbreak.
University classes will be conducted through virtual alternative instruction, from Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3. Students will be contacted by their faculty with additional details about virtual learning. The university will continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation prior to April 3.
Information about alternative instruction techniques, resources, training, and technologies are available to Mason faculty through the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning.
Units with continuity-of-operations plans should ensure that plans are updated and accurate. These plans will help units determine which employees may work remotely, who must report to campus, and which positions are unable to work when administrative offices are closed.
Continuity-of-operations planning for administrative functions determine:
- The impact on department operations.
- Which functions must be maintained when administrative offices are closed.
- Which employees have work tasks, technology, and access to university applications that will allow them to work from home.
- Remote-work expectations and telework and flexible work procedures. Who must report to campus under the university’s Designated Employee Policy.
Faculty and staff who are engaged in research should consider ways to make research more resilient by reviewing the university research continuity guidance available online.
Questions or Concerns
Virginia Department of Health
For questions regarding the Virginia cases or general coronavirus questions, contact the Virginia Department of Health on their hotline: 1-877-ASK-VDH3 (1-877-275-8343).
Student Health Services
Safety, Emergency, & Enterprise Risk Management