Skip to main content

February 6, 2020

Dear Rutgers Colleagues:

I am writing to update you on measures that Rutgers is taking to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff in regard to coronavirus. I am also asking for your help in ensuring that we hold firm to our values of respect, diversity, and inclusion during this period of uncertainty.

First, please be aware that our emergency management team is in close contact with the New Jersey Department of Health and with medical experts at RBHS. We have been advised that there is no reason at present to curtail normal activities, and no cases of actual or suspected coronavirus have been identified within the Rutgers community. The most recent analysis suggests that even if an individual has been exposed to the virus, the individual is not contagious until he or she has symptoms, which are similar to those of a common cold or the flu.

We have learned that some students are facing questioning by faculty and staff about their health or whether they might have been exposed to the virus. Please understand that such questions are inappropriate for a variety of reasons. Faculty and staff have no right to a student’s private medical information, and I ask that you not question them. It is also not permissible to require documentation from a healthcare provider to attend or return to class. And please do not assume that a student is sick if she or he is wearing a mask.

We are rightfully proud that Rutgers is a richly diverse and inclusive scholarly community, attracting students and faculty from around the world.  Our community includes thousands of students from China, many of whom may be experiencing anxiety about this illness because they have friends and family in the affected region of that country. I ask that you be sensitive and respectful in supporting your students.  Stereotyping students or others because of their ethnicity is not only unlawful, it is a violation of University policy and goes against our values as an inclusive community.

Students look up to faculty and staff, and it is our responsibility to create a climate of support for them, particularly at this time. We are working across the University to assist our students who are or may be affected by this situation and who have concerns related to courses, finances, housing, dining, and health. For updates on this virus and Rutgers resources for dealing with its impact, please go to the website. Chancellor Brian Strom and Senior Vice Chancellor Vicente Gracias will continue to provide updates by e-mail as needed, and I ask that you keep informed about coronavirus.

As a general rule, if you encounter students in physical or mental distress, please direct them to the appropriate campus resources at Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick, and at RBHS.

Thank you for your help in ensuring that our students have a positive experience during their time at Rutgers.


Robert Barchi