*Published Feb. 5, 2020*

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Northeastern University is closely monitoring the current 2019 Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and university leaders are in constant communication with government and public health agencies on a global scale to learn from and closely follow their recommendations.

This communication includes: important facts, the latest public health guidance related to the virus, and useful prevention techniques, appropriate responses for likely scenarios, and important internal and external resources.



How does the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread?

It is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through contact with an infected person who, for example, coughs or sneezes. It is important that everyone practice good respiratory hygiene. For example, sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow, or use a tissue and discard it immediately into a closed bin. It is also very important for people to wash their hands regularly with either alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.

It is still not known how long the 2019 Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) survives on surfaces, although preliminary information suggests the virus may survive a few hours. Simple disinfectants can kill the virus making it no longer possible to infect people.


What can I do to decrease my chances of getting infected?

Practice good respiratory hygiene. Wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers frequently. Avoid people who are sick, and cover your cough with a tissue. Disinfect commonly used surfaces frequently.

Do not share drinking glasses, bottles, utensils, makeup, toothbrushes, vaping or other smoking devices, boxes of food, finger-foods, or anything else that could carry the virus from one person to another.


Should I stay home from classes if I’m feeling fine but have traveled from China or if my friends are from Wuhan?

If you have travelled from China in the last 14 days, monitor your health and watch for any changes. If you get a fever or develop a cough or difficulty breathing during this 14-day period, avoid contact with others and call your healthcare provider or University Health and Counseling Services to tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel. They will provide further instruction about steps to take before your medical visit to help to reduce the risk that you will spread your illness to other people in the doctor’s office or waiting room. Do not travel or come to campus while you are sick.

If you have arrived to the U.S. from China more than 14 days ago and you are symptom-free, you should have no reason to be concerned.


What if I am experiencing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and fever?

People with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, the flu, or a cold typically develop respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose. Even though many symptoms are alike, they are caused by different viruses. Because of their similarities, it can be difficult to correctly identify the disease based on symptoms alone. That’s why laboratory tests are required to confirm if someone has coronavirus (COVID-19).

The World Health Organization recommends that people who have a cough, fever and difficulty breathing should seek medical care early. Patients should inform health care providers if they have travelled in the 14 days before they developed symptoms, or if they have been in close contact with someone with who has been sick with respiratory symptoms.


What should I do if I observe a friend or colleague showing respiratory symptoms?

Remember that the likelihood of symptoms such as sneezing and coughing being associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) is extremely low. It is more likely that the person showing those symptoms has the common cold or perhaps the flu. You may encourage the individual to seek medical care.


Under special circumstances, can the university accommodate remote access to classes and class materials or allow offsite completion of coursework?

If you have recently traveled from China, and you are ill with respiratory symptoms, you should seek medical attention. As a result, you may be advised by your physician to refrain from attending classes in person. In this case, please consult with your faculty member to work out the appropriate arrangements for completing your coursework remotely. You may also contact WeCare* to help you navigate the situation and get the assistance and resources you need.


Can I travel to China?

In accordance with the U.S. State Department’s decision to issue its highest alert on the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Northeastern University is prohibiting all non-essential university-sponsored travel to mainland China.

Students, faculty and staff who have plans to travel to China as part of university-sponsored programs must consult with Northeastern’s Global Safety and Security Assessment Committee** and receive permission from the university to travel.


What about students who are on study abroad and co-op in China?

Our partner universities in China have put all spring study abroad programs on hold until further notice, and we are in direct contact with students already in China, who intend to participate in those programs or are currently on co-op. Northeastern will provide assistance and resources as needed.


Can I travel to China for spring break?

If you have plans to travel to China over spring break for a personal, non-university-sponsored trip, please check with the airlines. Many flights to and from China have been suspended (other than flights out of China for U.S. citizens).

Please note that non-U.S. citizens who may be able to travel to China over spring break are not guaranteed return to the U.S., given the current travel restrictions.

What if I am expecting a scheduled visitor to arrive from China?

All U.S. airports that receive flights from China have instituted screening protocols for travelers arriving from China. According to public health experts, it is still advisable for visitors to monitor their health for a consecutive 14 days after arriving, and seek medical help should they show any respiratory symptoms.

Those at Northeastern who are anticipating visitors are advised to contact them and discuss the above.


We will continue to update the Northeastern University community as new information becomes available. All relevant updates can also be found on a dedicated website: news-northeastern-edu.go-vip.net/coronavirus.


Students and staff, please contact:


617-373-7591 (between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm EST)

International: +1 617-373-7591

wecare@northeastern.edu (this email address is monitored 24/7)


Members of the faculty, please contact:

Deb Franko

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

617-373-5454 (between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm EST)

International: +1 617-373-5454



Members of the Northeastern community may also contact:

**Global Safety and Security Assessment Committee


International: +1 617-373-3121


Please be prepared to discuss reasons for travel, proposed travel dates, and planned destination.


If you have questions or concerns about this travel restriction, please contact Khushal Safi, Senior Security Analyst for International Safety at k.safi@northeastern.edu.

If you have an urgent concern and it is after office hours, please call the Communications Center at 617-373-2121. An NUPD staff member is available to help and direct you to appropriate resources.

International: +1 617-373-2121