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Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Spain

Update: April 2, 2020

For information about COVID-19 as well as the University’s response in St. Louis, Missouri, please see Saint Louis University’s Health Advisory page
 
All SLU-Madrid services will be closed for the Semana Santa holiday (April 4-12). Emergency numbers that may be useful to the SLU-Madrid community follow:
 
In the U.S.: Students/families impacted by COVID-19, contact the Saint Louis University Student Health Center (in St. Louis, Missouri) at (+1) 314-977-2323. There is a nurse available on-call after hours.

In Spain: COVID-19 Emergency Phone: (+34) 900 102 112 or 061. For Madrid residents, if you believe you may have symptoms, you can report through a special phone app, available online.

SLU-Madrid continues to monitor local, national and international resources as this situation evolves, including all information we receive from the city of Madrid (Ayuntamiento de Madrid), the Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain’s Health Ministry, the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other sources.

Update: March 27, 2020

For information about COVID-19 as well as the University’s response in St. Louis, Missouri, please see Saint Louis University’s Health Advisory page

SLU-Madrid continues to forward all the U.S. Embassy in Spain Health Alerts to the U.S. students who have remained in Spain. These notices communicate the increase in travel restrictions, including the suspension of passenger flights between Spain and other European countries. Unless prepared to remain in Spain for an indefinite period, the Embassy warns that U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate departure.

As anticipated, we continue to receive messages from SLU-Madrid community members in Spain and abroad that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing the symptoms; we are relieved too when we receive news that those who have been ill are getting better. We urge everyone to follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus, as all of us in Madrid may have potentially been exposed to the virus.

Our remote classes are up and running, with students “zooming in” from nearly every state in the U.S. and around the world. SLU-Madrid reminds students to be in contact with their instructors if they have academic questions. In addition to formal courses, SLU-Madrid’s Writing Center, Spanish Language Center and math tutors are available to support students remotely. Our advising, career services, disability services, finance, financial aid, information technology, library, registrar, student life and wellness center staff are all readily available by telephone or email during normal workday hours in Spain. Please note that all services are closed for the Semana Santa holiday (April 4-12), which is an academic holiday as well.

As of now, SLU-Madrid does not plan to return to face-to-face teaching this spring semester. As a contingency, SLU-Madrid has also adjusted its summer session offerings: all courses listed in Banner will be available to students remotely/online. If the situation changes, adjustments will be made accordingly. The May 14 Commencement Ceremony is still under review; most likely, however, it will be postponed. This is heartbreaking: we are incredibly proud of our graduates, and we will identify ways to honor their achievement through a fitting celebration.

SLU-Madrid continues to monitor local, national and international resources as this situation evolves, including all information we receive from the city of Madrid (Ayuntamiento de Madrid), the Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain’s Health Ministry; the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other sources.

Update: March 23, 2020 

SLU-Madrid forwarded to its U.S. students who have remained in Spain the Health Alert announced by the U.S. Embassy in Spain. The embassy is requesting that all U.S. citizens who live in the United States arrange for immediate departure, unless they are prepared to remain in Spain for an indefinite period. The message stated that the Embassy expects commercial flights to the U.S. to end this week and expects all hotels, hostels and other accommodation to close this week as well.

On Sunday, March 22, Spain’s President announced the extension of the country’s “State of Alarm” through April 12. The country has placed firm restrictions on the movement of people and goods, as well as most commercial activity. Everyone in Spain, including U.S. citizens, is restricted from movement outside their home. SLU-Madrid students, faculty and staff in Madrid have already responded to these measures: we are learning, teaching and working from our homes.

Several students and families have been asking whether we will return to on-site, face-to-face teaching prior to the end of the semester. While we are hopeful, the reality is that it is highly unlikely. Students in Spain should plan on completing their courses remotely from their place of residence in Spain or elsewhere. It is too soon for us to make a definitive announcement about final exams, commencement or the summer sessions. 

SLU-Madrid continues to support all students: those in transit, those in Spain, and those in their home countries. Over the weekend, as anticipated, we received a few messages from community members in Spain and abroad that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing the symptoms. We offer them our support as well as our prayers. We urge everyone to follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus, as all of us in Madrid may have been exposed to the virus.
 
SLU-Madrid continues to monitor local, national and international resources as this situation evolves, including all information we receive from the city of Madrid (Ayuntamiento de Madrid), the Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain’s Health Ministry; the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other sources.

Update: March 20, 2020

SLU-Madrid forwarded to its community the U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory, which cautioned all citizens, worldwide, not to travel: Level 4: Do Not Travel. This advisory stated that U.S. citizens who do not return to the States now face being forced to remain in Spain for “an indefinite period of time.”

Thus, SLU-Madrid contacted all Madrid-based students who are U.S. citizens and asked them to return to the States. SLU-Madrid is requiring all students in SLU-Madrid host-family housing or student residences to return home, as we cannot guarantee accommodation beyond the end of the semester. Those students who wish to remain in Spain must contact Marta Maruri (studentlife-madrid@slu.edu), who will ask them to demonstrate that they have a place to live in May and beyond as part of her review of their request. 

 SLU-Madrid continues to support all of its students: those in transit, those who have remained in Spain, and those who have returned to their home countries. We remind all of our community to follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus, as all of us in Madrid may have been exposed to the virus. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

 Update: March 19, 2020 

We have received a report that a SLU-Madrid student who returned to the U.S. has tested positive for COVID-19. This student has already communicated this information to others with whom he/she has been in contact and remains in quarantine at home, following all guidelines and precautions.

We continue to keep this student, this students’ family, and all those affected by COVID-19 in our thoughts and prayers.

Second Update: March 18, 2020

We have received calls/reports that a few members of our community remaining in Madrid have reported that they are experiencing the symptoms of the COVID-19. They are following the recommendations of Spanish health authorities, to remain self-isolated for fifteen days, even though they have not officially tested positive.  

We urge all of our community to take every health precaution to protect themselves and others. If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus (shortness of breath, coughing, high fever), and you are in Spain, call 900 102 112 or 061, or seek medical attention from your own country. 

Update: March 18, 2020
 
 As of Monday, March 16, SLU-Madrid faculty have been delivering their courses in a remote format. As the U.S. press has reported, an increasing number of colleges and universities have shifted their teaching to online/remote delivery as well. This shift may put a strain on the internet, and we know that some students have faced technological challenges. Thus, faculty are adapting to these challenges and may be adjusting some of their plans now that SLU-Madrid has implemented this new mode of course delivery. If you have any concerns about the delivery of course content or the new structure, we urge you to email or speak to your professor directly.
 
Several students and families have been asking whether we will return to on-site, face-to-face teaching prior to the end of the semester. While we are hopeful, the reality is that it is highly unlikely. Students in Spain should plan on completing their courses remotely from their place of residence in Spain or elsewhere. It is too soon for us to make a definitive announcement about final exams, commencement or the summer sessions. We will continue to share information as we have it.
 
We also urge students still in Spain to practice social distancing, take health precautions as advised by the Centers for Disease Control, and obey the restrictions that Spain’s government has put into place. These include all movement outside of the home or place of temporary residence except for the following very limited purposes:

All students – whether in Spain or their home countries – are in the same position: taking classes remotely from their homes. We urge students to support each other and remain in close contact with their professors during these final weeks of the semester. While our facilities are closed, SLU-Madrid faculty and staff are committed to ensuring that our students remain on track towards reaching their educational goals.

Update: March 16, 2020
 
SLU-Madrid forwarded to its students the Health Alert from the U.S. Embassy in Spain. This alert outlines the measures the country is taking to control the virus, announced by the President of Spain on Saturday, March 14. Steps include a firm restriction of movement of people and goods, as well as most commercial activity. Air, sea and land transportation will be reduced to at least 50 percent of regular frequency; everyone in Spain, including U.S. citizens, is restricted from movement outside their home or place of temporary residence except for the following very limited purposes:

Thus, in response these measures, we have arranged for our staff to work from their homes, along with faculty and Madrid-based students.
 
SLU-Madrid continues to monitor local, national and international resources as this situation evolves, including all information we receive from the city of Madrid (Ayuntamiento de Madrid), the Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain’s Health Ministry; the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other sources.

Update: March 13, 2020
 
Spain’s local, regional and national governments are taking important measures to contain the virus. Specifically, the President of Spain has declared a fifteen-day state of emergency. We will continue to message out information once it is released from official, reliable sources.
 
SLU-Madrid forwarded the U.S. State Department email communicating the “Global Health Advisory - Level 3: Reconsider Travel” alert to all students.

We continue to provide support for students who are planning to return to their home countries. SLU-Madrid staff is available to help answer student questions and respond to concerns: please call +34 915 54 58 58 or email student life at studentlife-madrid@slu.edu.
 
SLU-Madrid has written all students, reminding them that online/remote teaching for all Madrid courses begins on Monday, March 16. Pending news from the Madrid Province, we may be able to resume onsite teaching starting Friday, March 27. We are, however, prepared for the contingency to offer all classes remotely (again, except for science labs, etc.) through the end of the semester. The date mentioned in the message students received from SLU President Pestello is for classes offered in St. Louis, Missouri. Note that we have extended the deadline to withdraw from a course and receive the grade of “W” to Friday, April 3.
 
Our message shared additional information, including a reminder about health care coverage. Sanitas Health Coverage provides medical care within Spain. Upon students’ return to their home countries, they must take steps to ensure that are covered locally.
 
SLU-Madrid continues to monitor local, national and international resources as this situation evolves, including all information we receive from the city of Madrid (Ayuntamiento de Madrid), the Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain’s Health Ministry; the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other sources.

Update: March 12, 2020

SLU-Madrid has written all students in response to President Trump’s announcement and the new travel warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control: Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel. SLU-Madrid strongly recommends that U.S. students return to their homes in the U.S. Staff are available on campus and by phone (+34 915 54 58 58) to assist students who are returning to their home countries.

Departing students have been asked complete the attached form and send it to our academic advising staff at advising-madrid@slu.edu. Faculty have worked tirelessly to ensure that classes can be completed remotely. Classes that pose challenges are science labs and internships, but we are looking for a solution. Remote classes formally begin Monday, March 16; some professors have already started, but will amend their attendance policies to accommodate the travel plans of students returning to their home countries.

SLU-Madrid understands that some U.S. students may not be in the position to return to the U.S. before the end of the semester. We understand too that some student may wish not to disrupt their studies further and choose to complete the semester here in Madrid. We will support them in their studies. Madrid is our home; it is a safe city and is taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, just as the U.S. is doing.

All SLU-Madrid students, however, who remain in Spain will be required to follow the precautionary measures announced by the Madrid Province. These ordinances ask all residents of Madrid to avoid non-essential travel from March 11 through March 26. Students who travel outside of the Madrid region will be asked to leave their host families, withdraw from their classes, and return home. SLU-Madrid has asked all students planning to travel over the next two weeks, to cancel their plans – unless it is to return to their home country. If they are currently outside of Madrid, they are asked to return as soon as possible and follow the ordinances of the Madrid Province. This policy will be reviewed on March 26, based on the information we receive from the Madrid Province.

We remind all of our community to continue take the appropriate health precautions:

For information about the coronavirus as well as the University’s response in St. Louis, Missouri, please see Saint Louis University’s Health Advisory page.

Update: March 11, 2020

SLU-Madrid forwarded the March 10 Health Alert, issued by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, to all students, faculty and staff. The alert summarizes some of the actions the Madrid Province and other regions in Spain are taking in response to COVID-19, including that all flights from Italy to Spain are canceled from March 11 through March 26.

At the time of writing, the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department have not changed their travel advisories for Spain. All students are asked to monitor these advisories daily. We also urge students to respect the Madrid Province’s request for people living in the Madrid region – which includes all SLU-Madrid students – to avoid all non-essential travel.

Update: March 10, 2020

SLU-Madrid emailed all students with detailed information about our shift from onsite to remote delivery of this semester’s courses. The Madrid Province (Comunidad de Madrid) has required all educational institutions in the region to take this precautionary measure in response to the COVID-19 situation in Spain. While campus facilities will be open, there will be no on-campus instruction or student activities  from Wednesday, March 11 through Thursday, March 26. Faculty have been preparing for this contingency over the past two weeks. They will formally start the remote versions of all courses – except for labs, internships, etc. – on Monday, March 16.

The email also reminded students who are returning to their home countries to communicate their intentions to our academic advising staff (advising-madrid@slu.edu). The message provided information about services available on campus and contact information for students who will be pursuing their classes from their homes and residences in Spain. 

In addition to suspending classes at educational institutions, the Madrid Province has also asked residents to limit travel during this two-week period, even within Spain. We have faith that our students will continue to make responsible decisions and recognize that their health and the health of others depend on their following this request. We are monitoring the information available from Spain’s Ministry of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. State Department; we urge students to do so as well.

In the meantime, we thank the faculty and staff for the flexibility they have shown and commend the students for their appreciation and enthusiasm to continue learning despite the challenges Spain – and the world – is facing this semester.

Update: March 10, 2020

Yesterday evening, the regional authorities of Madrid announced that all educational institutions – including private universities – must suspend face-to-face classes and on campus activities starting on Wednesday, March 11, for 15 days, as a precautionary measure in response to the increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in the region. SLU-Madrid must follow this directive. 

Classes are meeting today, March 10. Faculty and staff are on campus to work on the logistics of suspending classes and provide more information about the services and support available to our community. It is our goal to send you another update by the end of the day today.

Updates: March 6, 2020

The Health Ministry of the Madrid Province has requested that hospitals suspend clinical training for students. We are in discussion with SLU’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing about the best solution to this matter if this suspension is not lifted before semester’s end.

The Center for Disease Control continues to report that currently there are no travel health alert notices in effect for Spain. The State Department’s Travel Advisory for Spain remains at Level 2 (issued October 2019, for civil unrest and terrorism). The Ministry of Health in Spain has not reported an increased level of risk for Spain. SLU-Madrid continues to monitor this evolving situation closely and to communicate the measures we are taking.

Update: March 3, 2020

The CDC’s Guidance for Student Foreign Travel for Institutions of Higher Education, issued March 1, asks U.S. universities to consider bringing their overseas students back to the U.S. SLU-Madrid is part of the discussion taking place among University’s leadership – in consultation with experts, students and University-wide COVID-19 task force – to decide what this means to SLU students studying abroad, including those at the Madrid Campus. This website will be updated to reflect those decisions. Students from other U.S. universities and colleges studying abroad at the Madrid Campus are asked to reach out to their home institutions about this matter as well.

Currently, the CDC’s Travel Health Warning for Spain is “Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions.” We will continue to monitor these health warnings, as well as travel and health warnings issued by the U.S. State Department. We will continue to monitor the information we receive from these sources and advise students and the entire University community accordingly.

Update: March 2, 2020

The Spanish Health Ministry continues to rate the current public health risk due to the coronavirus as moderate. This risk assessment is reviewed constantly, based on the information available to the Ministry.

The U.S. State Department has not changed Spain’s Travel Advisory Level. It has, however, increased the level for travel to Italy to Level 3: “Reconsider Travel”; and specifically in the Lombardy and Veneto region, to Level 4: “Do Not Travel.” We urge all students to follow these advisories. The CDC issued a travel notice for Italy, raising it to a “Warning: Avoid Non-Essential Travel”; the CDC has not issued a specific warning for travel to or from Spain.

The CDC’s Risk Assessment Level for COVID-19 for the country of Spain continues to be “Limited Community Transmission.”

Emergency Numbers: Spain has created a special number (061) for individuals to call if they have the symptoms of COVID-19 or feel that they have been in contact with someone who does. Please call 061 – not 112. For general information and questions related to COVID-19, Spain has a toll-free (from Spain) information line: 900 102 112.

SLU-Madrid continues to monitor the situation carefully. The campus is open, and classes are meeting as normal. We are prepared for any situation, the most extreme of which would be suspending classes for limited period of time, if recommended to do so by health authorities.

Update: February 28, 2020

The Spanish Health Ministry rates the current public health risk due to the coronavirus as moderate, one level higher than what I reported in an email update sent to parents. This risk assessment is reviewed constantly, based on the information available to the Ministry.

There have been no notifications from the U.S. Department of State since last Wednesday’s Health Alert. In addition, the Spain Travel Advisory remains at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution – this warning, however, issued last October, is to advise U.S. citizens to be cautious due to terrorism and civil unrest.

SLU-Madrid is monitoring the situation and has reviewed protocols for steps to take for any community member diagnosed with the virus or in close contact with someone diagnosed. We will notify our community of the situation and follow all directives of Spain’s health authorities. At this point, it is unlikely that such directives would entail suspending activities on campus – that’s an extreme situation, although a scenario we are prepared for. Should there be a diagnosed individual, however, the individual will need to be isolated as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the virus. This would mean 14 days of quarantine and not being able to travel.

Thus, faculty have been asked to adjust their attendance policies and to develop plans for the delivery of the courses to students who may need to complete the learning remotely. This step will open the option for students to choose to return to their home country prior to the end of the semester. We will not be able to offer some courses both onsite and from a distance simultaneously (science labs, for example); we will permit students to withdraw from these courses with a grade of W, even after the March 15 deadline. With over 400 resident students, SLU-Madrid will still be offering all scheduled courses in the classroom. The city is safe; Spain is not in a state of emergency; Spain has an outstanding healthcare system. Indeed, we feel that the best option for the learning of our visiting students would be to continue their studies onsite here in Spain. We will provide them with all of the information they need to make an informed decision about whether it is best for them to take classes remotely or onsite at our campus.

Spring Break Travel: we urge students to make responsible decisions as they prepare for the Easter Break travels. While we require students to move out of host family housing during the break, we are ready to assist them with finding alternative accommodations if the wish to change their travel plans and remain in Madrid.

We urge all members of our community to continue to take health precautions:

Finally, a reminder: if any member of our community has traveled to high risk regions, including Northern Italy, in the past month and is experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, runny nose, shortness of breath, sore throat), please call the Student Life emergency number +(34) 638 763 758 for follow-up or  061, the line specially created for this purpose (updated March 2). Student Life staff will contact Spain’s health authorities to assess the situation and advise on how to proceed.

Update: February 26, 2020

Today, we have forwarded to all students, faculty and staff, the Health Alert for Spain issued by the U.S. State Department. This alert reminds U.S. citizens living or traveling overseas that Spain’s Ministry of Health is responding to cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and outlines actions to take:

For Information: 

For Prevention: 

We have reached out to our community, requesting that if they have traveled to high risk regions, including Northern Italy, in the past month and are experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat) to call the Student Life Emergency number +34 638 763 758 for follow-up. Student Life staff will contact Spain’s health authorities to assess the situation and advise on how to proceed.

It is important to note, too, that according the World Health Organization (WHO), four out of five patients infected suffer from mild symptoms (fever, sore throat, runny nose, achiness) and recover; 15 percent have severe symptoms, such as pneumonia; roughly five percent of cases are considered critical. For more information about the virus, please visit WHO’s website.

Spain’s government is taking every precaution to address this public health concern, as are we. We will follow all directives issued by Spain’s Ministry of Public Health. If health authorities require an individual to be quarantined or require us to suspend traditional classes and activities on campus for preventive reasons, we will develop alternative methods of delivering the academic courses that we are offering this spring – via online platforms, video-technology, or make-up classes in Spain (or the U.S.).

It is understandable that some parents of our students are concerned. Be assured that the safety and health of our community remain top priorities for us. Thus, we have already emailed students, providing resources so that they can make responsible decisions about where to travel and what health precautions to take. In addition, we work closely with Spanish health authorities, our own private health care providers, and the U.S. Embassy in Spain to keep students informed of the current situation in Spain and Europe.

As always, we are honored that parents of our students trust us to support and protect them during their studies in Madrid, and we will continue to take the measures needed to ensure that our campus in Spain is a safe place to study and work. As a community, we are praying for the health and well-being of all people around the world, especially for those in countries that don’t have the health care resources that we do in Spain.

We will continue to provide updates on the situation as it evolves.

P. Vita
Director and Academic Dean