March 20: To Students and Families from Dr. Benson

March 20, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

These are unprecedented times. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has spread across the globe and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. We at the Academy are committed to providing updates on the situation, advice, and a continued sense of community in the coming days and weeks.

Recent research on COVID-19 has shown that those over the age of 60 are most at risk for serious infection while children and young adults tend to have mild disease and show few to any symptoms. This means that young people can feel fine (be “asymptomatic”) or have minor cold symptoms yet still have COVID-19 and transmit it to others who are more vulnerable. This is why so many recent public health efforts have focused on closing schools to try and limit the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic carriers. It is critically important for all of us to do our part to stymie the spread of this illness and look out for all members of our community.

In order to do so, health authorities are advocating that everyone—regardless of recent travel or symptoms—practice social distancing to protect themselves and others.  Per the CDC, social distancing means:

  • Remain out of crowded public places (shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums, etc.) where close contact with others may occur.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately six feet or two meters) from others when possible.
  • Move from in-person conversations, meetings, and classes to online platforms.

Additionally, and as always, the CDC’s social distancing guidelines recommend excellent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and coughing into one’s elbow or a tissue.

While it may be tempting to get together with friends at home, please refrain from doing so and instead interact and socialize online. As social beings, it is difficult for all of us to limit in-person contact, but it is critical that we do so now to slow the spread of the virus, limit the number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, and protect the vulnerable. Social distancing is not only a way to keep ourselves healthy, it is an important method of helping keep others healthy.

Social distancing protects us all by decreasing the spread of COVID-19, and it also allows health systems to better deal with the numbers of people becoming ill. Recent reports have referred to social distancing as one way to “flatten the curve”—not allowing the illness to spike and overwhelm healthcare resources.

During this time, it is important that we all monitor our health. Please remain alert for symptoms of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.  Check your temperature if you feel feverish or develop a cough or difficulty breathing. If you do develop any of these symptoms, please call and discuss these concerns with your primary care provider’s office.

No doubt, these are difficult and unsettling days. I hope, by all of us working together as a community, we can make a difference in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve.”

Thank you!

Dr. Benson