Institutes of Higher Education

Checklist for Administrators

University and colleges are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of community-level COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States. Use this checklist to make decisions now that will protect the health of students and staff in your care.

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Stay informed about local COVID-19 developments.

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Review and update your emergency operations plan. Focus on components that address infectious disease outbreaks.

  • Work with your local health department, the university system, and other relevant partners.
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Encourage students, staff, and faculty to promote everyday preventive health behaviors on your campus:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces following CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
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Monitor and plan for absenteeism.

  • Make accommodations for students if they become sick (e.g., extended due dates, electronic submission of assignments).
  • Alert local health officials about large increases in student, staff, and faculty absenteeism or substantial increases in student health center traffic due to respiratory illnesses.
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Establish procedures for students, staff, and faculty who are sick on campus.

  • Students, staff, and faculty who become or are sick should be sent to their place of residence as soon as possible.
  • In communities without COVID-19 cases, sick residents of on-campus housing should avoid contact with people who are healthy.
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Develop a system for sharing information with partners.

  • Work with local health officials to determine if patterns exist with absenteeism or if you see more students going to the student health center for respiratory illness.
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Ensure your health clinics have CDC’s COVID-19 healthcare guidance.


If there is a case of COVID-19 in the community:

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Work with local health officials to determine if your institution needs to suspend classes or postpone events.

If a student or staff member on campus has a case of COVID-19:

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Work with local health officials to determine if, when, and for how long your institution needs to suspend classes or postpone events.

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Communicate about the COVID-19 case, but maintain the confidentiality of the student or staff member.

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Local health officials may recommend temporary class suspension. If classes are suspended:

  • Cancel extracurricular activities.
  • Discourage student, staff, and faculty gatherings.
  • Ensure continuity of education, research, and services.
  • Implement your continuity plan for staffing, e-learning and distance learning options, safe housing, meal programs, and medical and social services.
  • Counter stigma and promote resilience by sharing trusted information and encouraging the use of campus mental health services.
  • Work with local health officials to assess when students and staff can return to campus.