News 2020: March 1st message from Chancellor Johnson on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
March 1st message from Chancellor Johnson on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Chancellor Johnson provides updates and guidance on the global coronavirus situation.

COVID-19 Update

I am writing to provide important new guidance on the evolving nature of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation. There are reports of increasing cases in areas such as South Korea, Japan, and Italy. With these developments, we are closely evaluating university associated international travel to ensure we can best support our faculty, staff, and students.

There have been no cases of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at UMass Dartmouth.

To ensure the continued safety of our community members who are studying, working, and traveling abroad, please see the additional measures below:

For students

  • The International Student & Scholar Center is currently in contact with students abroad to ensure their wellbeing and to offer the assistance of the university. We are continuously monitoring the circumstances across the globe and in communication with our international partner organizations.
  • Should the travel condition in the area where you are studying abroad reach the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Level 3 or U.S. State Department Level 4 travel advisory, we will require that you leave the area. The International Student & Scholar Center will immediately contact you to facilitate your safe departure and inform you about academic continuity plans.

For faculty and staff

  • As you know, we require all faculty and staff to upload your itineraries for all university-related travel into Terra Dotta. For guidance on this process, please visit the UMass Terra Dotta site. This system will automatically send you travel alerts and text messages.
  • Any employee seeking to travel to a CDC Level 3 or U.S. State Department Level 3 or 4 country must receive written approval from the International Advisory Council’s Risk Management Committee by contacting Michael LaGrassa (

For residential students who would like to stay on campus over spring break

Residential students who would like to stay on campus over spring break must complete the online form for Housing and Residential Education by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4. Follow these instructions to do so:

  1. Log in to the UMass Dartmouth portal.
  2. Click on "Student Resources".
  3. Click on the Student Housing Information Portal (StarRez).
  4. If necessary, click on the Student SSO Login toward the bottom of the page.
  5. Click "Housing Processes" and then select "Spring Break Application".
  6. Fill out that application.

General Guidance about Upcoming Travel

We realize that many students, faculty, and staff may have plans to travel over the upcoming spring break period. As this situation is rapidly evolving, we recommend that all members of the community evaluate travel plans on a daily, rather than weekly basis. The CDC frequently asked questions page is updated regularly with information about travel.

General Health Precautions to take during flu season and with the Coronavirus

As a reminder, the risk of contracting this illness remains low in the United States, but to prevent the spread of many infections, please practice good hygiene, including:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Staying home when you are sick;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and
  • Getting a flu shot if you have not already done so.

Want to learn more about the Coronavirus?

Student Health Services and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences will sponsor an informational session about the Coronavirus on Tuesday, March 3 at 3 p.m. in the Main Auditorium. Please join Drs. Marianne Sullivan, Nancy Street, and Monika Schuler for this timely and important session.

How should we plan for extended absences for faculty, staff, and students should our community be impacted?

Human Resources will be issuing guidance for faculty and staff concerning business continuity preparation and general absence management in the event a faculty or staff member or a family member becomes symptomatic. The Provost’s office will work with College Deans and Department Chairs to address concerns about associated student absences.

I want to reiterate that there have been no cases of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at UMass Dartmouth.

For general questions or comments about COVID-19, please call Student Health Services at 508.999.8982. You can find all the latest information on our Health Advisory website, including frequently asked questions.

Any student who is feeling worried or concerned for family or friends abroad should contact Counseling Services at 508.999.8648. Faculty and staff are encouraged to call Human Resources at 508.999.8060.

Your safety, well-being, and ability to continue your studies, teaching, research, and other daily activities remain the highest priorities for the entire leadership of UMass Dartmouth.

With gratitude,


Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.