March 12, 2020
Dear Moses Brown Community,
With spring break starting tomorrow, I’m writing to provide an update about COVID-19 and steps we’re taking at MB to keep our school and the broader community healthy.
Please read this letter in its entirety, as there have been a number of new developments in the past several days
. Key information here includes:
1. A request to fill out the
Family Travel Survey,
which has been broadened to include both international and domestic travel;
Plans for Distance Learning
(in the event of school closure), and instructions to bring home all school supplies on Friday, March 13;
4. Cancellation of two March break domestic athletic trips; and
5. Guidelines for events with more than 250 people.
You can find all MB communications, updates, and resources related to COVID-19 at this
Please be sure to monitor email during spring break, as we will provide additional updates prior to our anticipated return on March 31.
Extent of outbreak
As of yesterday, five people in RI are known to have contracted COVID-19, 94 have tested negative, eight tests are pending, and 260 residents are self-quarantining for 14 days. While there does not appear to be widespread community transmission in RI at this time, a number of colleges and universities have taken the precautionary step of moving to online classes and nearly every school has cancelled international student travel. To stay abreast of these developments, members of MB’s response team are meeting regularly, conferring with other school leaders, and monitoring information disseminated by Governor Raimondo, the RI Department of Health (RIDOH), and federal agencies such as the CDC and State Department.
Is Moses Brown going to close?
This week, many colleges and universities decided to move to online learning for the rest of the semester, and others cancelled athletic contests for the spring season. While we support the individual choices of these institutions, as a day school we don’t face the same level of complexity that colleges do in terms of residential living. Yesterday at a press conference, Governor Raimondo and Director of RIDOH, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, indicated that they are
recommending school closure right now as a general course of action for Rhode Island. For these reasons, and consistent with the current approach of most independent and public elementary and secondary schools, MB is not planning to close at this time.
If school is disrupted: plans for online learning
If the COVID-19 outbreak worsens during spring break, or impacts the MB community more directly, we will consult with health experts in assessing whether to close temporarily. Should this become necessary, we will deliver our academic program through online and digital resources. Faculty will be working to refine lessons during a planned professional development day on March 30. Please consult our short-term
Distance Learning Plan
, and reach out to your division head or our technology director Grant Henderson (
) with questions about hardware or internet needs.
Tomorrow afternoon, at the start of spring break, we suggest that all MB students, faculty and staff bring home with them whatever materials (textbooks, notes, computers, chargers etc.) they might need to engage in work from home.
This is a precaution only, as such a decision is not imminent at this time.
Spring break travel & request for information
Last night, the State Department issued a
Global Level 3 Health Advisory
encouraging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad. And President Trump issued a directive banning entry into the U.S. from continental Europe. Apparently there will be some exceptions, so families who are planning to travel to Europe, or anywhere, during spring break should consult resources such as the CDC’s
Information for Travel
page and the State Department’s
, which include country-specific guidance. We strongly discourage anyone from traveling to a country categorized by the CDC as Level 3 or 2 (currently China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan).
In preparing to manage a potential escalation of the outbreak in Rhode Island, we need to have a clearer understanding of where MB community members have traveled during this time period.
If you or a member of your family have traveled
domestically or abroad
in late February or March, or have plans to do so in the coming month, we ask that you fill out a simple and confidential online
This information will be used by MB administrators only if necessary, to assess potential level of exposure should the outbreak worsen.
Pre-season sports practices and trips
We plan to proceed as planned with upper school sports practices during spring break. Our school nurse and athletic trainer have developed enhanced
intended to keep our student-athletes healthy. Joyce Freemen, our athletic trainer and a highly respected health care professional, will be working with athletes during break and can be a resource for parents as well. Our hygiene protocols will be shared with upper school spring athletes at an assembly tomorrow and with middle school students immediately after break. I’m sorry to share that, out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with growing public health directives to avoid unnecessary travel, we have decided to cancel two upper school domestic athletic trips---tennis and baseball.
New recommendations from RIDOH
State officials are now recommending the cancellation of events where 250 or more people would be in close proximity for an extended period. At this point, we’re not sure if this stipulation for social distancing will remain in place after spring break; if so, MB will comply, seeking alternate formats for events such as Upper School assemblies, meeting for worship, and other public gatherings. Following RIDOH’s guidance, we will also begin screening campus visitors orally, asking those who check in at Middle House or the Lower School if they are feeling ill and refusing entrance to those who are.
As I have shared previously, Moses Brown is following the guidance of RIDOH, the CDC, and other health professionals in establishing an attendance policy during the outbreak.
Anyone who has had direct contact with a COVID-19 patient, who has traveled to a CDC Level 3 country (currently China, South Korea, Iran and Italy) or been in contact with someone who has, may not come to work, attend school, or otherwise visit MB’s campus until they have been symptom-free for 14 days since the date of last possible exposure.
The contacts of those contacts may come to campus as long as all concerned remain symptom-free.
MB’s housekeeping services have been undertaking deep nightly cleaning of the campus, using electrostatic applications of virucide to disinfect high-touch surfaces. All classrooms also have been equipped with disinfectant and teachers have been asked to wipe down surfaces such as desks and doorknobs several times during the day. We will monitor the outbreak in the coming days and continue these precautions after spring break if/as needed.
Lastly, we want to emphasize that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other communicable illness is to follow basic hygienic precautions:
· Stay home if you are ill;
· 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;
· Maintain a distance of six feet from others if and where possible;
· Do not share household items such as water bottles, utensils, towels, lip balm etc.;
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
· If a child shows signs of illness and you have questions or concerns, please contact your primary care provider immediately;
· Get a flu shot.
I appreciate everyone’s support as we continue to monitor the outbreak and take steps necessary to keep the community healthy. We certainly hope that school will remain open and that we can resume normal operations after March break. But if we do close, please know that we will work hard to keep our students and community connected, supported, and engaged.
Please monitor email during spring break, as I’ll be in touch again with further updates. As always, I remain available to answer any questions that you may have.
Head of School