Dear DKU parents,
We are reaching out to provide you with an update on Duke Kunshan University and the coronavirus situation. We fully understand the concerns you have with your children being away from home right now.
Please be assured that the DKU Emergency Preparedness Task Force – jointly led by the Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon and Chancellor Youmei Feng – is closely following all developments surrounding the coronavirus situation. The task force meets and communicates regularly, and is implementing its action plan on a daily basis to respond to this extremely challenging and rapidly changing situation
DKU is in constant communication with the local government and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Kunshan to understand the actions authorities are taking to contain the epidemic, and we are in contact with the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Shanghai. We are also following CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on what DKU and its community can do to keep our campus safe.
So far, there have been no confirmed cases at DKU or in the city of Kunshan.
Over the past week, we have shared a series of messages with the DKU community to keep students, faculty and staff informed on the actions we are taking, as well as advice on the everyday precautions individuals can take to significantly reduce or minimize expose to the coronavirus.
In the past 72 hours, in particular, we have steadfastly increased our vigilance on campus, including doubling efforts to clean and disinfect shared areas and common surfaces, distributing surgical masks and N95 masks, adding more hand sanitizer stations, and introducing strict protocols for dining staff and custodians.
We also surveyed our entire community to find out where people are, where they planned to travel, and when they expected to return to our campus. This data is extremely important to understanding how to manage a large number of people returning to campus.
In line with government requirements, we strongly encouraged all residents of Hubei province to avoid traveling to the region. Students from Hubei currently residing on campus were advised to stay on campus, and we told those already in Hubei to remain in the province until they received further instructions.
Under rapidly changing conditions, we have been required to make decisions quickly to minimize risk. On Jan. 25, after careful analysis and consideration, the task force decided the best course of action was to suspend classes in all programs until Monday Feb. 17 and to restrict access to the campus to essential personnel only until Saturday Feb. 15.
Postponing the opening of school was a decision not taken lightly or made precipitously. The highest priority was the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. It was also a decision highly consistent with what many other schools and universities in China are doing.
Students residing on campus are not allowed to leave unless they need to travel to the hospital, and students residing at Scholars Hotel must remain there unless they need to travel to the hospital or to the main campus for dining services. We have arranged a DKU shuttle bus to transport students from the Scholars Hotel to the main campus at meal times. We will of course continue to provide resources, services and support to students on campus and at the Scholars Hotel, and will continue to monitor their well-being, offering health checks, psychological counseling and emotional support.
To assist with logistical challenges, we felt it important to offer financial support to students on campus and at the Scholars Hotel who wish to return home and to those currently traveling who are now unable to return to campus until Feb. 15.
Many airlines and transportation service providers are offering refunds and other solutions at no additional cost to people whose travel plans must change because of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, for students who need help returning home, DKU will work with students to provide reroutes to help them get back home. This funding is available only to students on campus and those in a third destination who wish to return to their home country. The task force has formed a team to help book flights.
While we recognize the hard decisions we have made may cause some inconvenience, we are going to take every precautionary measure to keep the entire campus community safe.
We know this is a difficult period, and we thank you for your patience and cooperation. Be assured that a core team of more than 25 university personnel is working tirelessly to protect your children and the entire DKU community.
Finally, please be aware that the situation surrounding the coronavirus is constantly changing; as a result, we may need to revise our class schedules again in the future. We will notify you promptly of any changes and the reasons behind them.
Thank you for your care and support.
Chancellor Feng Youmei
Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon
DKU Emergency Preparedness Task Force