COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Updates
See also: Information for Parents
To our RUSM Community:
The health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities in which we serve are of utmost importance to us. As we continue to monitor the rapidly evolving public health situation, please know that we are taking the necessary precautions to lower the risk of exposure and do our part to curb the spread of the virus.
On March 13, 2020, we made the decision to shift all courses online for the remainder of the semester. We believe this decision, is consistent with best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will best protect our RUSM community.
While the news and virus itself can be disruptive to our everyday lives, our focus remains clear: we will continue to impart the knowledge, skills, and values required for our students to become successful physicians while prioritizing our students’ well-being. We are very fortunate that the strength of our online education capabilities enables us to be agile and adaptable, providing a high-quality learning experience. Our learning management system is built to fully support online education, and our faculty are prepared to serve our students in interactive, virtual environments.
While we approach this changing public health situation with great confidence in our education abilities, we empathize with our students, faculty, staff, and communities. Certainly, no one is immune to the stresses of balancing life’s priorities or this significant change. We are here to answer questions, and to help guide and support our students every step of the way.
Passion for our mission and unwavering commitment to our students’ health, safety, and education journey are at the heart of what we do. We are grateful to have your trust and appreciate your patience and flexibility as we navigate this unprecedented time together.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to the World Health Organization, common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure.
RUSM is taking precautions to lower the risk of exposure and do our part to curb the spread of the virus. With this in mind, we are shifting all basic science courses for Barbados students to online delivery via Panopto for the remainder of the semester. We believe this decision, consistent with best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will best protect the Barbados community.
Since classes will be available online, students can choose to return home to finish out the semester. We ask that students consider the risk of traveling to the U.S. before making their decision. Classes will pause until Wednesday, March 18, 2020, to allow students time to travel and settle into their preferred location. If they identify in the high-risk category according to CDC guidelines, they are asked to please reach out to [email protected] to assist with logistics of their travel.
The Barbados campus will remain open and operating for students who make the decision to stay. We ask those students who remain on campus to continue to also take precautions, including practicing social distancing, while they participate in distance learning from their homes.
Yes. The Villages of Coverley and the Coverley Square will remain open for students. Regular shuttles will continue for students traveling to and from campus. If a student decides to return home for the remainder of the session, they will still be responsible for their rent and utility expenses.
If you choose to leave Barbados, please make arrangements for your pet or plan on bringing your pet along with you.
Precautions can be taken to minimize your risk and prevent exposure and spread of the disease. The CDC has published a medical decision-making tool that you can use to understand your risk, and which gives guidance based on risk.
It is important that we work together to take common sense precautions that can reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
Per CDC guidelines
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean and frequently disinfect common work surfaces.
If you or a family member develops a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath, or are experiencing cold- or flu-like symptoms, work with to alert appropriate contacts and practice social distancing.
Travel Advice, including reduction:
We have been monitoring all government-issued travel guidance and have made the decision to follow the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice regarding travel to areas with increased risk of COVID-19, as follows:
RUSM is cancelling travel for all colleagues to countries that have been given a Risk Assessment Level 2 or higher travel advisory. These countries are China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City (Level 3), and Japan (Level 2). As the CDC provides travel advisories for additional countries, we will update our guidance.
We strongly encourage you to follow the same guidance and carefully consider any travel between countries.
If you have traveled to any of the restricted countries, we ask that you [email protected] so we can take appropriate precautions.
All campus community activities are suspended until further notice. Students and colleagues will be notified via SIREN and email for information about activities resuming.
We have instituted social distancing measures on campuses to reduce the likelihood of exposure or transmission. This includes postponing group meetings and other activities that require large groups to be confined in closed spaces. We are also asking employees who have traveled to an area with heightened risk to practice social distancing and not come to campus.
If you believe you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or believe you are displaying symptoms, please contact your local department of public health and email us at [email protected] so we can take appropriate precautions.
RUSM has decided to continue to deliver medical sciences classes remotely for the start of the summer 2020 semester. When it is determined safe and appropriate to do so, we will plan to resume in-person instruction on campus, while continuing remote course delivery, around mid-semester.
As the global public health situation continues to evolve, our main priority is the health and safety of our students and their families, our colleagues and our community. With this is mind, RUSM has determined it is critical to cancel the May commencement ceremony. While your hard work deserves to be commemorated, we won’t be able to come together in person in May. The circumstances of this global health crisis mean we, as medical practitioners, need to lead by example in modeling social distancing and putting community safety first. We applaud our graduates for their perseverance and dedication to reaching this milestone in their medical training, and will reach out to them with an update on how we plan to celebrate at a later date. Please know, this in no way lessens the importance of our graduate’s accomplishment, and if anything, further demonstrates the critical need for exceptional healthcare professionals.
Match Day Celebrations: As per the prior communication, RUSM has canceled all Match Day parties. While we appreciate the sensitivity and gravity of this decision, they will not be rescheduled based on RUSM’s commitment to our community health. In lieu of the Match Day celebrations, we are exploring alternative ways to honor students and celebrate their great achievements. More details will be shared as they become available in the coming week.
Barbados National COVID-19 Protocols
If you develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call the Barbados COVID-19 hotline immediately at 1-246-536-4500 to speak with a medical professional and avoid contact with other people. The COVID-19 hotline is operated by the Barbados Ministry of Health and Wellness (MHW) and staffed 24/7 by public health officers. After discussing your symptoms, a hotline official will advise you of next steps.
At this time, all RUSM students and colleagues on island should be practicing strict social distancing in addition to good hygiene. We recommend following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for protective measures, which suggests wearing a face mask only if you are sick or around other people who may be sick.
Guidance on quarantine and isolation will be provided to you when you contact the Barbados COVID-19 Hotline at 1-246-536-4500. You should be prepared to follow protocols provided by the Ministry of Health, which may require quarantine or isolation at a government facility.
General instructions and FAQs For RUSM Medical Sciences Students, COVID-19
As a reminder, no academic activities will be delivered live on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17. This includes lectures, exams, clinical skills activities, small group activities from the academy for teaching and learning or any other curricula or small group activity. Faculty and colleagues will use Monday and Tuesday for planning purposes.
Panapto is now available for students to use while remote or off-island.
All lectures for March 16 and 17 have been posted to Panopto in their respective folders. Students will be responsible for learning and reviewing that material before live, virtual instruction resumes.
Virtual instruction will resume via live delivery on Wednesday, March 18.
Clinical and other comamunity activities, including service-learning activities, are suspended until further notice.
Small group learning and peer tutoring (ATL) will resume beginning Wednesday, March 18.
Sessions will be delivered via WebEx or Zoom meetings to ensure ongoing support.
Beginning Wednesday, March 18, mandatory attendance is required for the following activities. Failure to attend will have penalties as outlined in the course syllabus.
o AIST and Harvey exams for 4X05 and SGL/ESP will be conducted via WebEx.
o All students will be required to attend CS activities remotely.
Physical examination skills for Semester 01 and 02 will be cancelled.
Further instructions will be sent out from Clinical Foundations.
Contingency planning for the administration of examinations is ongoing, with the primary goal of maintaining the majority of your current exam schedule.
There will be a change in dates for exams scheduled during the week of March 15. However, the anticipated delays will be minimal. The exact dates will be confirmed in the upcoming days. Please keep in mind that no exams will be scheduled for Monday, March 16 or Tuesday, March 17.
It is recommended that you continue your studies and be mindful of the current placement of exams, which will be conducted remotely. Communication from the Exam Center and E*Value will indicate exam dates and times, so please monitor these two applications closely.
Our Barbados campus will remain open and in operation.
While our faculty and staff will be practicing social distancing in order to provide continuity in your educational progress, we ask that you refrain from visiting campus until we provide alternative guidance. Basic services will be available, however, we ask that you reach out to Dr. Bryan Hayse ([email protected]) to determine whether a visit to campus is necessary.
Housing check out process information was emailed on March 14th, 2020, if you have any additional questions please contact [email protected]
General Instructions for RUSM Clinical Students, COVID-19
IMF CLERKSHIP PROGRAM
RUSM is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students and the communities in which we serve. In accordance with guidelines released by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), we have made the decision to delay our March Internal Medicine Foundation (IMF) clerkship start, originally scheduled for March 30, 2020.
Students registered for March IMF will receive further information soon, including the new anticipated start date for this rotation. We are continuing to work through the logistics of our new start but have every intention of continuing this program as soon as it is deemed safe and appropriate to do so.
We recommend you adjust any current travel plans you have for Florida and wait until more information is provided before establishing new travel plans. Canadian and international students with immigration questions can email [email protected].
RUSM and our hospital partners continue to follow guidance from the AAMC and LCME in determining the best time to reschedule the March IMF. At this time, RUSM and Cleveland Clinic Florida have not set this date. We will provide these details when they become available.
RUSM CLINICAL STUDENTS
On Tuesday, March 17, RUSM notified all students to discontinue reporting to clinical sites through Tuesday, March 31, or until further notice, in accordance with guidance from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), who recommend that medical schools suspend their students’ “participation in any activities that involve patient contact.” On March 23, RUSM commenced clinical sciences-focused online case-based modules for currently enrolled core and elective clerkship students.
RUSM is working internally, with our clinical partners as well as national leaders and accreditation agencies, on a safe return to clinicals. We will continue to keep you informed as our plans progress.
PLANNING MY STUDENT TIMELINE AND MATCH OUTCOMES
At this time, RUSM continues to remain committed to our student’s health and safety. Additional information will be made available as the situation evolves. RUSM is closely following guidance from the AAMC and LCME as well as national leaders as it relates to clinical clerkships. We have asked all students to discontinue attending their clinical rotations through March 31, 2020 or until further notice. As of Monday, March 23, students are participating in online coursework through April 3, 2020. Additional details about continued clinical clerkships training after April 3 will be communicated shortly.
RUSM understands the sensitivity to the continued perseverance of our students working toward specific timelines including graduation and residency application cycles. As the USMLE and Prometric react to the current global pandemic, RUSM is committed to supporting our students in meeting their ECFMG certification requirements. Each student will be contacted to discuss how these changes impact your overall plans. We will also work with you to develop a testing/certification requirement continuity plan. Students can anticipate having these planning calls once RUSM has reinstated the clinical clerkship in its normal setting.
Our focus continues to be on your health and safety and this time. More information will be provided at a later date and will align with recommendations from various governmental agencies that regulate our medical community.
RUSM understands that each student has specific timelines for graduation and residency application cycles. As we all adapt to the current situation, our priority is to support our students in staying on track to graduate and match. Once RUSM has issued a clearance for all students to return to clinical clerkships at hospital locations, students will be contacted to discuss how these changes impact their overall plans. We will continue to work with you to develop a residency obtainment plan.
Students who have matched and need clinical weeks to meet graduation requirements are our top priority. RUSM will continue to work with each student individually who is impacted by changes to the clinical clerkship schedule and make appointments to assist with graduation clearance as well as ECFMG certification. Our team will be reaching out to impacted students to review next steps.
Each student that is impacted will receive information directly related to the grading schemes for any core clerkships that were not completed during the window of suspension of the clerkships. Please rest assured that students will earn credits for the weeks completed within their clerkship. Additional information will be shared with students based on the number of weeks completed at their clinical site.
GRADING INFORMATION FOR SUSPENDED CLERKSHIPS
Students will be able to earn credits for the weeks completed within their elective. Additional information will be shared with students based on the number of weeks completed at their clinical site.
Students scheduled to sit for an NBME or USMLE exam should monitor the status of their testing site for possible closures. These have been mostly limited (no closures in the US) and we have not seen closures at any Step 2 CS testing centers. You can monitor the status of test sites using the links below, and if your test is impacted, contact ECFMG or NBME as soon as possible to have it rescheduled.
- Prometric Testing Centers: For USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK, NBME Subject Clerkship Examinations, and Comprehensive Clinical Sciences Exam (CCSE COMP)
- CSEC Testing Sites: For USMLE Step 2 CS
Please note that there may be fees associated with rescheduling exams. Students will be responsible for any change fees.
Students are required to take the NBME Subject Clerkship Exam (SCE) at the end of each core clerkship. Unless otherwise notified by the testing center, students are still expected to sit for their scheduled NBME SCE. If you are not able to sit for the exam because of a disruption related to COVID-19, RUSM will not count this as a failed attempt. Please be sure to keep a copy of the relevant documentation from the Prometric center and contact [email protected] to obtain a new permit. Please note that any fees will be dictated by the examiners, not RUSM, and will be the student’s responsibility.
If you are not able to take your exam because of a disruption related to COVID-19, then RUSM will not count that as a failed attempt. Please be sure to keep a copy of the relevant documentation from the Prometric and contact [email protected] to obtain a new permit. Please note that any fees will be dictated by the examiners, not RUSM, and will be the student’s responsibility.
We understand that students will have varying levels of comfort around the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who can are encouraged to sit for scheduled examinations unless their testing site has cancelled the examination or is closed. If your testing site has closed, please email [email protected] and provide that written documentation. The Exam Administration department will work with you to reschedule your testing windows.
Students should email [email protected] and provide documentation regarding the Prometric center closure. The Exam Administration department will work with those students to reschedule their testing windows.
If your Kaplan CSA is cancelled, please email Kaplan at [email protected] and they will work to reschedule your exam.
Students should email [email protected] and provide documentation regarding the USMLE canceled exam. The Exam Administration department will work with those students to reschedule their testing windows.
Please ensure that you continue to review updates directly from USMLE at the following website: https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=262
With the Prometric closures and suspension of USMLE Step 2 CS testing, RUSM continues to monitor the availability status for students to reschedule. As noted previously, RUSM will honor the rescheduled exam dates set by Prometric, ECFMG and NBME/USMLE and provide extensions once services are resumed.
We understand that changes to clinical rotations have disrupted many of your plans and recognize the uncertainty this brings. RUSM continues to monitor the advice of the AAMC, LCME, CDC, and WHO as we work with our hospital partners to identify when our students can return to the clinical setting. Additional information on the April rotations will be provided soon.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT QUESTIONS
RUSM is very aware of the impact that this situation may have on international students as it relates to immigration, travel, and a transition plan. The safety of our students remains our priority. The immigrations team will meet with impacted students to develop a plan to deal with possible entry restrictions. This may include travel and visa planning, re-entry into the US planning, and planning to ensure immigration compliance.
As of March 23, all RUSM clinical students were asked to participate in online coursework. When RUSM returns to a standard clinical-based setting for its clerkships, Canadian students should continue to follow the guidelines that are outlined by RUSM at that time. The global community is impacted by this pandemic. Therefore, RUSM will continue to provide instruction to students for future planning and clinical clerkships when it is safe to do so.
Our current academic curriculum requires students to complete their IMF clerkship as well as core clerkships at the US affiliated hospitals within our network. These clerkships continue to meet licensure and regulatory requirements which are significant to ensuring post licensure after graduation.
All elective clerkships will require approval from RUSM to also ensure that they meet licensure and regulatory requirements during the elective year. These clerkships may be done in Canada once they have been approved. At the current time, RUSM continues to be vigilant to ensure the health and safety of our RUSM community and therefore students should continue to ensure that they follow the guidelines and communications provided as we respond to the impact of this pandemic.
Given the unique nature of this global pandemic, RUSM is unable to provide long term guidance on travel. Students are urged to exercise good judgement and caution as circumstances are likely to continue to change. Please monitor the latest U.S. and international travel advisories prior to any travel and coordinate closely with RUSM administration if you will be missing any educational activities.
GENERAL PLANNING QUESTIONS
No, the clerkship is not cancelled. Yes, you will begin it online. On Monday, March 23, we asked students currently in Core Clerkship to participate in online coursework. These online clinical courses will continue building students’ knowledge base in each respective core discipline. Students who are scheduled to begin a new core clerkship on March 30 will start the associated new online coursework at that time.
On Monday, March 23, students in elective rotations had the opportunity to register for an online elective through Cleveland Clinic Florida. This two-week elective will conclude on April 3. We will provide further details on upcoming elective opportunities starting in April as they become available.
While we recognize our students’ passion and desire to help others by remaining in the clinical setting, RUSM has instructed students to refrain from attending their clinical rotations through March 31 and until further directed. At this time, no RUSM student should be participating in clinical rotations at a hospital. We have aligned our decision with recommendations from the AAMC and LCME.
HEALTH AND COPING
If you have a health condition that puts you at high risk of complications from COVID-19 or have unique circumstances (e.g., caregiver for an immunosuppressed family member), please work the Office of Student Affairs at [email protected] on ways to reduce your risk while meeting your educational requirements.
During this period, it is important to remember to continue self-care for your emotional well-being. Self-care activities may include:
- Keeping a regular sleep cycle
- Engage in regular exercise
- Maintain contact with friends and family, virtually if necessary
- Eating a healthy diet