I am writing to update you on Ranney School's active engagement in monitoring, and planning for, the widely-publicized novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and its implications for our community. While there have been a few isolated cases outside of China, our community as a whole is at a very low level of risk. We want to reassure you that we are monitoring the situation, but there is currently no reason to suspect the coronavirus will approach or impact our community. Given the fluid dynamic in terms of information that is being communicated, we wanted to share some resources and evolving protocols. We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely.
Our resources include guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), and the International SOS (ISOS, a medical and travel security services company). Our national organization, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the local community, the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, are also continuing to provide resources and guidance. We have also been working internally with our Ranney Health Office, as well as the Medical Advisory Committee of the Board of Trustees, and are also partnering closely with our local Monmouth County Regional Health Commission and Health Officer David Henry.
As you may already be aware, the 2019-nCoV is a novel strain of a common family of viruses called coronaviruses. Coronavirus infections are most prevalent during the winter months and range in severity from the common cold to the more virulent strains that were responsible previously for outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This novel strain was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, but cases have now been reported in several other countries, including current cases in the United States. The principal illness of concern caused by this virus is viral pneumonia. However, since the virulence of this particular strain and the risk profile of person-to-person transmission are still under investigation, the guidance for prevention, screening, and testing is understandably still evolving and fluid. The most recent criteria for heightened concern and testing from the CDC read as follows:
- A patient with fever AND symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) AND one or more of the following in the last 14 days before symptom onset:
- History of travel from Wuhan City, China, OR
- Close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019-nCoV while that person was ill.
- Fever OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) AND close contact with a confirmed 2019-nCoV case while the case was ill."
Please notify the Health Office if you have concerns for yourself or your child in light of these criteria before coming to campus.
Below you will find links to useful resources from the WHO, CDC, and the NJDOH that will carry the most recent information and guidance on 2019-nCoV. Our priority is the safety of our community, and the guidance from these, and other trusted health organizations with whom we are working, will be tailored to that purpose. You will hear updates, as necessary and appropriate.
Again, we are confident in the global health community's assessment of a low risk level, and will be monitoring the situation closely in case that assessment changes. Thank you for partnering with us to help ensure the health and safety of our students and our entire community.