University Pandemic Planning Team works to answer COVID-19 questions about travel, quarantines, online classes


Morgan Anderson

COVED-19 cases in the U.S., as of March 8.

The Business Continuity Pandemic Planning Team met again Monday morning to discuss university preparations and plans for COVID-19. 

Student Health Services Director Camille Childers is the head of the team. 

“The governor said, ‘don’t panic,’” Childers reiterated early in the meeting. 

Childers said her office is getting a lot of questions, as are other departments and the administration.

“Some of the main concerns coming out of the conversations are related to what other universities around the country are doing,” she said. “Some universities that have cases in their states or close to them actually closed. I’m sure you’ve seen those they’ve converted to an online environment. Some of them are canceling large events. We’re not at that point.”

Some students have expressed concerns about their travel plans for spring break. Childers said those traveling abroad or going on cruises over spring break need to be prepared not just for what happens when they go but when they return. 

“It’s not so much going as it is what happens when they come back,” she said. “They may be subject to a 14-day quarantine when they get back to us, depending on what time they return and what the current situation is in that country.”

The group is working on putting together advice for students about travel before spring break.

“We don’t have a way to track people traveling for pleasure,” she said. 

There are plans to establish a voluntary reporting mechanism for people with plans to travel internationally. 

“At least let us know where you’re going for your own safety, and (if) we need to reach you for some reason, we have a way to do that, Childers said. “That would include personal travel.”

She said she hopes to get that launched by Tuesday.

Childers emphasized that the university is following recommendations from the Sedgwick County Health Department.

Associate Dean of Students Scott Jensen said he and his team are preparing a few spaces for quarantined students.  

“If the number gets too high, obviously we have to look for other spaces,” Jensen said. 

He said he’s planning to look at local hotels or other places that could potentially take on people such as roommates of those with COVID-19. 

“We will take our lead from the local health department and our student health center on when to isolate or quarantine someone,” Jensen told The Sunflower in an email. 

Representatives from the Information Technology department report that they are looking at the university preparedness for a switch to online classes in case that becomes necessary. IT will be meeting later this week to continue preparing for this possibility, and representatives said they plan to purchase 200 Chromebooks at a cost of roughly $140,000 for students to use in the case of an online switch.

Childers is updating the Faculty Senate Monday afternoon on the situation and is regularly updating University President Jay Golden, she said.

On Sunday, Childers said that representatives from the following departments attended the first Pandemic Planning meeting: 

Academic Affairs,  Athletics, Auxiliary Services, Counseling and Prevention Services, Dining/Chartwells,  Environmental Health and Safety, Finance & Administration, General Counsel, Housing and Residence Life staff/student, Human Resources, Information Technology Services,  International Education, Physical Plant, Sedgwick County Emergency Management, Sedgwick County Health Department, Strategic Communications, Student Affairs, Student Health Services, Student Government Association, and the WSU Police Department.

During Monday’s meeting, it was decided that someone from WSU Tech should join the committee as well. 

The next planning meeting is scheduled for March 16. For more information on COVID-19, student health, and study abroad travel, check out The Sunflower News Podcast to hear a recent interview with Director of Student Health Services Camille Childers and Associate Director for Study Abroad and Exchange Programs Ann Burger.