Health Services

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ


What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in at least 60 countries internationally, including cases in the United States (U.S.).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified and much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • By respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Possibly by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching own mouth, nose or eyes—not the main way the virus spreads

According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas, such as China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

In the United States (U.S.), there have been imported cases of COVID-19 from travelers and person-to-person spread in close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, China.

Most recently, the CDC reported community spread of COVID-19 in several states: California, Oregon, and Washington. The first reported deaths in the U.S. occurred in Washington state as a result of community spread.

What is the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

According to the CDC, at this time, the general American public, including Saint Peter’s University students and employees, are unlikely to be exposed to this virus. The immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. The virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the U.S. The risk assessment will continue to be updated as the situation evolves.

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Symptoms usually appear within 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Risks for developing symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Travel to any of the following affected geographical areas within the past 14 days:
    • China
    • Iran
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Hong Kong
  • Having close contact with someone who is known to have had COVID-19

What do I do if I feel sick?

  • Monitor your symptoms closely. Remember that the likelihood is low that you have coronavirus. Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.
  • Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65. Guidelines for travelers returning from affected countries are available from the CDC.
  • Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

The CDC also advises you to:

  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If no soap and water is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Additionally, if you have NOT returned in the past 14 days from travel to a country with a COVID-19 outbreak OR have NOT been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 but do have fever and respiratory symptoms, please seek medical advice and call ahead to your healthcare provider. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first.

Students may contact the Office of Health Services at (201) 761-7445 or their primary care provider.

Faculty, staff and administrators should contact their primary care provider.

What if I HAVE symptoms and have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or I am a traveler returning from an affected geographic area?

If you develop symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your return from travel to a country with a COVID-19 outbreak OR you have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, please take the steps listed below.

Before you go to any healthcare facility call ahead and tell them about your exposure to COVID-19, your recent travel and your symptoms. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

If you are a student, contact the Office of Health Services at (201) 761-7445.

Faculty, staff and administrators should contact their primary care provider and alert the Office of Human Resources.

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and report your symptoms to the dispatcher.

What if I am a traveler returning from an affected geographic area and do NOT have symptoms?

As you are returning from a country with a COVID-19 outbreak, please plan to stay home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.

We recommend anyone returning from a country with a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Notice check in with the University’s Office of Health Services even if you have mild or no symptoms.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go?

Only healthcare providers can request a test for the virus that causes COVID-19 and those tests are run through a county or state public health office. Testing is based on symptoms and risk factors such as travel history or exposure to individuals known to have the disease. For this reason, walk-in testing is NOT available at any healthcare facility in the region, including the Office of Health Services.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, please do not go to a health care provider before calling first. Please follow the directions in the “What do I do if I feel sick?” question if you are ill.

How do I help prevent the spread of viruses, including COVID-19?

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus. The most effective prevention at this time is to avoid exposure. You can visit the CDC website on prevention for detailed information. A summary of this information is below.

The CDC recommends the following actions to minimize your risks:

  • Stay informed and up-to-date by monitoring the CDC website.
  • Get vaccinated for influenza (the flu) and other respiratory diseases.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you think you are sick, call your health care provider first for assistance.

There are also several “do not” actions the CDC recommends:

  • Do not travel to affected geographic areas.
  • Do not use face masks. CDC does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Do not show prejudice to people of/from affected areas out of fear of this new virus. Do not assume that someone from an affected area is more likely to have the virus.

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

We understand that some community members are concerned. Remember that according to our state and local health departments, the risk to the Saint Peter’s University community and to the U.S. population as a whole is currently low. If you would like to talk with someone, the counseling and psychological services (CAPS) office, located on the second floor of Saint Peter Hall, is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please call (201) 761-6420 if you are seeking support.

How does Saint Peter’s University clean and disinfect?

The University’s custodial cleaning program uses a disinfectant to clean touchpoints, public and common area restrooms daily.

There are also dispenser stations throughout campus containing hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, though proper hand-washing technique is deemed to be more effective by the CDC.

Facilities crews have also implemented extra measures to clean and disinfect surfaces in public areas that are touched frequently. This includes surfaces such as door handles, banisters, and elevator buttons. The University has stepped up these preventative measures to further mitigate risks of the novel coronavirus. It is also recommended that all departments use disinfectant wipes for human touch points within their work spaces such as keyboards, public counters, credit card readers, phones, and shared surfaces and items. We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC for preventing the spread of the virus.

Many of us are concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances and recent return from areas most affected by COVID-19. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality. As stated by the CDC, travelers from affected areas have performed a valuable service to everyone by helping make sure this disease does not spread further. Helping fight an outbreak can be mentally and emotionally challenging. These travelers need social support upon their return.

Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support. We can communicate the facts and prevent the unnecessary harm of stigma.

How is Saint Peter’s University managing COVID-19?

Saint Peter’s University is in direct contact with the State of New Jersey Department of Public Health. The Office of Health Services is following strict guidelines developed by public health officials for care of students who have concerns about COVID-19. Saint Peter’s employees should work with their healthcare provider for questions about COVID-19. The Office of Human Resources is available to help employees with questions about their healthcare benefits and resources.

What happens if I live on campus?

Students living on campus should monitor and take precautions as you normally would to prevent the spread of colds and viruses. At this time there are no restrictions placed on students who are already living on campus.

I’m hosting an event on campus. Should I cancel it?

There are no restrictions on campus events at this time. Take precautions you would normally take to help prevent the spread of colds and viruses during flu season and remind attendees of these precautions.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19?

For current information about this evolving public health situation, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page.

What financial refunds/credits will Saint Peter’s University provide?

Saint Peter’s University is committed to providing prorated refunds or credits for housing, meal plans and parking due to the government mandate to move our operations online; we will be communicating details as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience as we work diligently to develop the policies and procedures for this process.

Please note that tuition refunds will not be issued. We are still holding classes, albeit virtually, now under the direct order of the state government. Academic credits are still being earned toward your degree and all support services remain open virtually to support your progress. We encourage all students to take advantage of the extensive resources of CASE, CEEL, the library and the many other programs and services that foster academic, personal and social achievement.

Refunds and Credits

Will I receive a refund or credit?

Saint Peter’s University has completed calculations for prorated refunds or credits for housing, meal plans and parking fees due to the government mandate to move our operations online. Please note the following:

● Credit for housing, meal plans and parking have been calculated on a prorated basis, adjusted for financial aid and scholarship policies if appropriate.

● If you owe a balance, this credit has first been applied against the balance currently due for spring 2020.

● Unless you are a graduating senior credit balances for housing, meal plans, including flex and commuter, will roll over to the next academic year 2020-2021.

If you are a senior that is graduating:

● If the housing, meal plan or parking credit creates a credit balance, you will receive a refund check at your permanent address on file with the University.

If you are a first-year, sophomore or junior:

● Unless you owe a balance, you have received a credit in your student account towards your future term billing statement after spring 2020.

How will you determine the amount of my refund or credit for housing, meal plans and parking?

Prorated refunds or credits will be calculated for the period of Tuesday, March 24 through Thursday, May 14. Financial aid and scholarship policies may impact your refund or credit. For those students that were unable to return home and remained on campus, refunds/credits will not be issued.

Will tuition refunds be issued?

Tuition refunds will not be issued. We are still holding classes, albeit virtually, under the direct order of the state government. Academic credits are still being earned toward your degree and all support services remain open virtually to support your progress. We encourage all students to take advantage of the extensive resources of CASE, CEEL, CAPS, the library and the many other programs and services that foster academic, personal and social achievement.

Will I receive a credit or refund for my lab fee?

Prorated lab fee refunds or credits will be calculated for the period of Tuesday, March 24 through to the last scheduled lab of the spring term.

Will I receive a refund or credit for my activity fee?

No. Events are still taking place virtually.

Will I receive a refund for my commencement fee?

No. At this time we cannot predict when, where and how commencement will take place. However, we are committed to recognizing and celebrating the Class of 2020 who have all worked so hard to get to this point. Graduation regalia and diplomas have been ordered.

As we learn more in the coming weeks, and our situation becomes clearer, we will work towards a plan to honor our graduates. Please also know that the Office of Leadership and Engagement will be in touch in regards to a plan for Senior Week as well.

When will my refund or credit be issued?

Checks will be mailed for seniors within the next three weeks. Please be aware that the United States Postal Service is experiencing delays with deliveries due to the pandemic. Credits will be issued to your student account within the week to two weeks. Students should ensure their mailing address is up to date in Spirit Online. If it is not, please contact the Offices of Student Accounts at studentaccounts@saintpeters.edu or Registrar at registrar@saintpeters.edu for instructions to update your student record.

How will I know when my refund or credit has been issued?

Refund/credit balances can be viewed on your statement by logging into your Spirit Online account under Student Menu and selecting View and Make a Payment.

When can I use my credit?

Housing and meal plan credit will be used for a future term after spring 2020. Parking credit will be used for a future academic year parking fee.

I thought the University received money from the U.S. Department of Education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Why has there been a delay with issuing refunds?

The University was awaiting federal guidance on financial aid and related policies before completing refund and credit calculations. We appreciate your patience as we worked through the process in line with the numerous federal regulations in regards to issuing credits and refunds.

Is there an emergency assistance fund?

Yes. The University has just received its first installment of funding through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that will provide emergency assistance grants to students who have demonstrated need and are facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University will announce plans for disbursing funds to students and the process for students to apply for additional emergency funding. Moreover, the Jane Moulton Reuter ’72 Needy Student Emergency Fund is available to those students who meet certain criteria. For more information, please contact Erin McCann, vice president for student life and development, at emccann@saintpeters.edu.

Additional Questions?

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the office of Student Accounts at studentaccounts@saintpeters.edu.