Letter from President Turner – Coronavirus update

Dear SMU community, 

The spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, is top of mind for all of us, and I’d like to reassure you that SMU is working at every level to protect both the health and academic progress of our campus community. 

These preparations include prevention information being distributed by the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, aggressive cleaning of high-touch surfaces, preparations by our Office of Information Technology to support teaching classes online, and maintenance of this website to keep our campus updated on this rapidly changing situation.  SMU’s Emergency Operations Center has been meeting to prepare for challenges ahead and we are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dallas County Health and Human Services to apply the best information available to our decision-making. 

The campus will likely be most vulnerable when our community returns from domestic and international travel after Spring Break. As we have made clear, University policy has no role in governing your personal travel. However, any country you visit may be designated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as a level 3 (high-risk) country even after you arrive, subjecting you to sudden travel restrictions that could impact your work or studies at SMU. The CDC is your best source for health and travel information. Federal, state and local health organizations are recommending that all travelers returning to the United States from a CDC level 3 country stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left the impacted country. 

SMU will continue to evaluate the risk to our community at large.  We are preparing our faculty to teach online and make other accommodations for both students and faculty who need to isolate themselves due to illness, exposure to the virus or who have compromised immune systems. 

Many of you are asking whether the University will need to cancel all in-person classes to block the spread of the virus.  As of today, that possibility is not imminent, but we have contingency plans in place if that becomes necessary. We have no current plans to close our residence halls during or after Spring Break.

We will be guided by the recommendations of our federal, state and Dallas County health authorities as our community’s health is paramount. Please watch your email and this website for information as it develops.  We will continue to keep you updated on our preparations as this situation evolves.  Thank you for your continued patience, and keep calm and wash your hands. 


R. Gerald Turner