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New London and southeastern Connecticut News, Sports, Business, Entertainment and Video

New London — Connecticut College is making contingency plans in response to the threat posed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the infectious coronavirus, including establishing a quarantine residence hall and requesting professors be prepared to hold class sessions remotely.

In compliance with recommendations and precautions outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the college has required students studying abroad in Italy and other so-called “Level 3” countries — those that are deemed at highest risk for spread of the disease — to return to the United States. However, the college has barred students from returning to campus without waiting the mandatory 14 days consistent with the CDC’s recommended quarantine period.

“We are continuing to keep an eye on study abroad programs in Japan, which is currently at a CDC Warning Level 2, as well as programs in other countries,” Vice President for Finance and Administration Rich Madonna said in an email to the college community. “The College may also restrict access to campus for people traveling for College or personal travel from a country that the CDC classifies as Alert Level 2, requiring the CDC-recommended 14-day monitoring period.”

The college is not testing or preparing to test students yet. But, in the event that COVID-19 spreads to the campus, the college has removed all students from Lazrus House, a residence hall on campus, where students would be quarantined while they recover.

“The College will provide students with food delivered to Lazrus and will monitor their progress,” Dean of Students Victor Arcelus said in an email to the college community.

Yet with the start of spring break, which is March 6 to 23, faculty and students are worried that COVID-19 will spread more rapidly across the United States — infecting students traveling domestically and internationally. This concern has led the college to consider contingency plans for students to continue studying remotely if the college shuts down or if students become ill and are unable to return to campus.

In an email to faculty, Connecticut College has required professors to consider online platforms — such as Google Hangouts — to continue hosting class sessions if physical class meetings are suspended.

“Whenever possible, provide students with multiple ways to earn credit for ‘participation’ so that those who are unable to attend class can continue to engage as fully as possible — and with the confidence that they won’t be penalized for their absence,” Dean of the Faculty Jeffrey Cole said.

While these contingency plans are important backups in the event that COVID-19 continues spreading, Associate Dean of the College Carmela Patton “assumes we’ll be open” after the break. “There is a remote chance that we would close. We are just preparing in case we do,” she said.

Some Asian American students report discrimination from peers

With 401 confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19, which first began to emerge in Wuhan, China, some Asian American students at Conn have reported harassment from others for “spreading the disease.”

Sophomore Anne McLaughlin described an event where, while she was walking to the dining hall, students she did not know accused her of being responsible for the disease.

“People just come up to me and say, ‘Chinese brought the plague. You’re Chinese so you brought it.’ Because of my race, people think that I have the virus,” she said.

Junior Julia O’Connell described eating lunch with her friends when one of them accused her of spreading the virus after she coughed. She said that others erroneously believe that “Because I am Asian, my cough automatically means that I have the coronavirus.”

Reports of such incidents are not unique to Conn College. In January, French newspaper Le Courier Picard received backlash for using the headline “Alerte jaune” (yellow alert) and “Le péril jaune?” (Yellow peril?) when referencing COVID-19.

The CDC has added a “Stigma and Resilience” page to its website to mitigate the effects of disease-related stigma. “It is important to remember that people — including those of Asian descent — who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other Americans,” it says.

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