An Update for Students from Dr. Benson

February 4, 2020

February 4, 2020

I am here today to give an update about health on campus. Those of you who were here for sit-down dinner on Sunday heard from Dr. Austin who reminded us to focus on the power of empathy and reason, and to remember to take good care of our friends who are struggling as they hear stories of difficulties and illness back home. While I will focus on a medical update today about coronavirus and the flu, I, too, hope we will all commit to taking care of each other, being kind, and staying calm and committed to empathy and reason as we follow the news.

As you know, coronavirus continues to gather headlines as more infections are documented in mainland China and other parts of the world. Some of you may have heard the news of one confirmed case of coronavirus in Boston this past weekend. In the coming days and weeks, we are likely to hear of other confirmed cases and potential exposures. Please remember that the CDC still considers the novel coronavirus a low public health risk to those residing in the United States, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health also continues to note that “the risk to residents of Massachusetts is low.” No one on this campus is from or has traveled to Wuhan City or Hubei province China, and no one on this campus is suspected of having this virus or having been exposed to this virus. The Academy continues to monitor the situation closely, following the recommendations of the CDC, the State Department, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Academy’s Senior Staff has met multiple times specifically to address this issue, and we will continue to keep the community informed. Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our students.

As you may have heard, as of this morning nearly 20,000 people, have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. In comparison, this year, so far 15 million people have been infected with the flu in the United States alone. We have been fortunate at DA so far because flu has not been significantly present on campus; however, in the past week we have started to see an uptick in cases of lab-confirmed flu. I encourage all of you to please use common sense hygiene practices to help prevent flu and keep our community healthy.

First and foremost: Please continue washing your hands or using hand sanitizer on a frequent basis, especially before meals and before and after using athletics facilities. You may have noticed we have ordered some new hand sanitizer stations for the foyer of the Dining Hall and also in the athletics complex. PLEASE MAKE USE OF THESE! In the coming days we will also be placing them on tables in the dining hall for use during meals. Please also continue to cough/sneeze into your elbow so as not to spread germs. And last but not least, if you are feeling ill, and definitely if that includes feeling feverish or if you have chills, please come and get checked out at the Chen Center for Health and Wellness.

At this time, we do not see any significant risk associated with continuing regularly scheduled school activities, school sponsored trips, and other off-campus programs. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you updated accordingly if things change.

As a school, we are committed to keeping you informed and keeping your health and wellness a priority. During this difficult time, our hearts go out to all of the members of our community with family and friends in China. Ms. Creagh and others will continue to work with any students whose travel plans may have been disrupted by new travel restrictions, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone in the Chen Center if you could use some support.

Thank you.