Dear Cushing Families,
As you may have heard, reports about an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China have been in the news recently. The recent outbreak has caused several hundred confirmed cases in China, a number across Asia, and at least two in the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
has issued a
recommending against all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China due to an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus, which can be spread from person to person. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a health emergency in China, but has not classified the outbreak a
health emergency. According to these various sources, as of this writing, the immediate public health risk in the United States is “low.”
As recommended by Cushing's Director of Health Services, Sue Casey, the guidelines for prevention are commonsensical—e.g., exercising basic prevention protocols appropriate to any flu-like virus (washing one’s hands regularly; staying in private quarters if ill; minimizing the spread of germs by not sharing personal items). These are practices we regularly employ during this time of year as the flu is certainly a concern on any school campus.
With particular respect to the Cushing community, we have taken the following additional steps:
- As noted above, we have shared internally with students and staff a continual reminder of good practices such as regular hand washing, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing, and reporting to the Health Center if anyone has a cough, fever, and flu/cold symptoms. We have also emphasized that students not share utensils, drinks, chapsticks, etc.
- We have suspended all visits to the Admissions office from anyone living in mainland China and Hong Kong. While we have not had anyone from Hubei Province visit the Admission office in several weeks, we are taking this extra precaution as a temporary, conservative measure.
- We are in the process of adding extra “hand sanitizing stations” across campus to encourage regular hand washing by increasing the level of accessibility of instant hand sanitizer to all members of our community.
- We have asked our maintenance and cleaning staff to focus on high traffic/high touch areas such as doorknobs and surfaces that individuals may touch on a frequent basis to be sure that extra attention is being placed on the cleaning of these hard surfaces on campus.
- Although we have asked students to practice good prevention behaviors, I would also like to ask that all families reinforce these strategies in conversation with your children, and instruct them to come to the Health Center for evaluation if they are feeling ill.
If the situation heightens in the coming weeks, we may consider additional steps to ensure the safety of our campus. For example, as we get closer to spring break, we may consider restrictions on travel back to the Cushing campus from areas that have coronavirus activity.
This is a fluid situation that is evolving over time, and we will continue to monitor the progress of this coronavirus and adjust as necessary to be sure that we are taking all precautions necessary to keep everyone in our community safe and healthy.
If you have any questions, I am happy to talk anytime.