University of San Diego

Office of the President

Dear USD Campus Community:

The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is of critical importance. In recent weeks there has been quite a bit of news about the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on individuals and communities. As a university community, we need to do everything we can to mitigate exposure to the virus and be prepared to respond immediately to any emergencies in a timely fashion. To accomplish that goal we will need everyone’s support and cooperation.

Let me begin by sharing with you that to date we have had no cases of COVID-19 on our campus.

In an effort to provide our community with the latest information available, we have created a COVID-19 website that contains relevant information and links to other valuable resources. The website will be updated on a regular basis and can serve as your first stop for information. We are in regular contact with local, state and federal authorities and are following the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others as quickly as it becomes available. Any new information we receive will be posted on the website.

It is important to remember that USD has well established protocols on how to respond to a campus emergency and conducts emergency management scenarios on a regular basis. For example, the university has pandemic and continuity of operations plans that were developed during previous events, such as the H1N1 and SARS outbreaks. Effective immediately, we have convened a USD COVID-19 Action Team to refine and implement these plans to address this evolving challenge.

We are also forming the following subcommittees of the COVID-19 Action Team to review and make any recommendations on key issues:

Academic Continuity - led by Provost Gail Baker and Vice Provost Tom Herrinton;

Health and Well-Being - led by Vice President Carmen Vazquez and Assistant Vice President Melissa Halter;

Operations and Services - led by Vice Presidents Ky Snyder and Carmen Vazquez; and

Communications - led by Vice President Rick Virgin and General Counsel and Advisor to the President Tom Skinner.

The COVID-19 Action Team will oversee the ongoing work of the Critical Incidence Response Team (CIRT) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) teams, and will report to me and my Administrative Team on a weekly basis. Key subject matter experts will be also be consulted, and stakeholders and partners will be identified to join these groups. The USD COVID-19 website also will ensure that all pertinent and timely information is available to our community in a single location.

Other actions to date, in addition to planning and preparation, include:

  • Travel restrictions have been implemented for university sponsored travel
  • Some specific summer programs have been cancelled
  • We have recalled travel abroad students from impacted countries
  • We have and continue to be in contact with students in areas impacted by COVID-19

The CDC has stated that current information suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild. However, older people and those with underlying health conditions, like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, are about twice as likely to develop serious outcomes compared to younger, healthier people.

All of us have a role to play in keeping ourselves, our families and our communities safe. The most effective measures to prevent infection, according to the CDC, include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it properly.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

If you have been in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after departing, you should:

  • Seek medical advice – Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel on public transportation while sick.

We will keep you informed of any developments, and please visit our COVID-19 website for further information.

Thank you for your efforts to keep our campus community safe and healthy.


James T. Harris III, D.Ed.

University of San Diego

Office of the President
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492