March 1, 2020
Dear Moses Brown Community,
This morning, Governor Raimondo announced that a case of coronavirus has been identified in Rhode Island. In light of this news, and with spring break approaching, I’m writing to provide updated information about the outbreak and the steps we’re taking to monitor the situation and keep our community healthy. The safety of our students, parents, and employees is our highest priority and I want to be sure that everyone is sufficiently informed.
Extent of Outbreak
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has now been identified in more than 50 countries, including the United States, and this week, the Centers for Disease control (CDC) issued a warning that the virus is likely to continue spreading within the U.S. The risk to any particular individual remains low, and the CDC is urging common-sense preventive hygiene rather than alarm. Members of MB’s administrative, wellness, and safety teams have been monitoring the situation closely and consulting with experts so that we are prepared for the potential spread of the virus.
Preventive Measures at MB
While the coronavirus has not been identified in the MB community, as a precaution we will be scheduling deep cleaning across the whole school this week. We are asking community members---for the time being---to suspend our Friendly practice of shaking hands, e.g., during morning drop-off in Lower School, or at the end of meeting for worship (a simple “elbow bump” is a safe alternative). And I want to remind everyone that the best thing we can do to keep illness contained is to
stay home if you are ill and follow these basic safety precautions:
· Wash your hands frequently with soap and water; if those are not available, use hand sanitizer.
· Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Do not share household items such as water bottles, utensils, towels, chapstick etc.
· If a child shows signs of illness and you have questions or concerns, please contact your primary care provider immediately.
· Get a flu shot.
Spring Break Travel
We know that many of our parents and families travel regularly, and with spring break approaching, it’s likely that some will be traveling in the coming weeks. If you plan to be abroad during spring break or in the near future, we encourage you to check
entry and exit requirements for the U.S.
and your intended destination(s) before your trip and again prior to your return. Many countries have instituted restrictions that may affect you, and these can change with little or no advanced notice.
Informing Moses Brown
The CDC has issued a Level 3 warning (discouraging all non-essential travel) for China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, and a Level 2 alert (recommending enhanced precautions) for Japan.
On the basis of these advisories, and out of an abundance of caution, Moses Brown is asking all families that travel to any of these countries, or that have contact with someone who has traveled there, to notify our nurse, Barret Clarke, immediately
Possible restriction from campus
Those returning from these areas must follow the guidance of health officials, which could include quarantine, self-monitoring at home, or other protocols. Those returning from Level 3 countries will not be allowed on MB’s campus until they have been symptom-free for 14 days from the date of last possible exposure. Those returning from Level 2 countries may also face restrictions depending on exact travel locations. MB will make such decisions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with medical experts. We will need everyone’s cooperation with these policies in order to maintain a healthy school environment.
We have a number of domestic and international trips planned over the next four months and Dr. Gara Field, MB’s Director of Global Education, is monitoring updates from the CDC, State Department and the World Health Organization in order to assess the situation in each area. Moses Brown will not send a trip to any area where there is a CDC Level 3 travel advisory, and trip leaders will be in touch with students and families regarding the timing of our decision-making about each trip. We respect individual families’ decisions as to whether to participate in a planned trip.
If School is Disrupted
This past week, the CDC recommended that schools develop plans for continuity in teaching and learning in the event of disruption caused by the virus. If this were to occur, we would rely on digital and online resources to deliver our program. To that end, I have asked our Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, Debbie Phipps, to work with division heads, teachers, and IT specialists to make sure we have the resources necessary to do this effectively. Clearly, we hope this possibility never comes to pass, and will be in touch with families immediately if it does.
As stated in Barret Clarke’s letter of February 14, it’s important to note that the risk of contracting coronavirus is closely tied to one’s recent travel history, and the travel history of one’s immediate contacts. Nationality itself is not a risk factor. We are committed to treating all members of our community with compassion and respect, and to combatting stereotyping that has emerged in the wake of this viral outbreak.
I’ll close by reiterating Governor Raimondo’s primary message today: the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders remains low, and the best thing we can do right now is to remain vigilant and avoid panic. If you have questions about the outbreak, please contact Barret directly, and if you have concerns about MB’s policies and procedures, please feel free to reach out to your division head or me.
Thank you for your support and cooperation as we work to maintain the health and safety of the Moses Brown community.
Head of School