Dear Oliverian Community,
Like all boarding schools, Oliverian has a special responsibility to proactively monitor any threat that might impact the wellbeing of our students and staff. So we have, of course, been paying close attention to the Covid-19 Coronavirus. The beauty of a place like Oliverian, where we live in community with our students, is that the same protectiveness we have for our own children extends also to our students. We are one community and one family here. In that spirit, I wanted to briefly update all of you on our efforts to provide safety as this virus runs its course globally, nationally, and locally.
With the bottom line goal of keeping our students and faculty safe, we have formed a Covid-19 Response Team consisting of our clinical director, Julie Tracy, and our nurse, Michelle Austin-both of whom have provided extremely smart and proactive support-as well as Greg Vogel and myself. We are also involving the trustees on our executive committee and other leadership team members and parents in the discussion. The team is focusing on the following response categories: crisis monitoring, prevention, detection, containment, treatment, communication, and continuity of service. Our main sources of authoritative information are the CDC, the New Hampshire and US departments of education and health, and the mainstream media. To refine this information into actionable plans that are optimized for Oliverian, we have active, collaborative partnerships with nursing staff at local public schools and boarding schools. We are supplementing these primary sources with mainstream media reports and medical and education industry publications and alerts.
Our prevention efforts begin with staff and student education around reporting symptoms, covering sneezes, disinfecting surfaces, washing hands with soap and water, and avoidance of face touching. These are always good practices and we are reinforcing, and enforcing, these standards with special zeal at the moment! This means weekly classes, daily lessons, and real-time prompts. We are also exercising caution with regard to participation in activities that require travel or may expose students to large groups of people; we are evaluating outings on a case by case basis. We are closely monitoring staff (including family members) and students-especially those who have recently traveled-for any concerning symptoms. Our nurse is providing immediate evaluations per CDC and USDH protocols to anyone who is symptomatic in order to rule out Covid-19 Coronavirus. If a member or our community does not pass this screening, they will be supported, again per CDC and USDH standards, with quarantine, testing, and-if indicated-medical intervention until cleared by a physician. These measures are designed to maximize support to the individual while also protecting the school community and the general public.
Even though New Hampshire is considered a low risk region at the moment (the one NH case-a mild one-is thought to be isolated, with no spread), we are nonetheless creating medical algorithms to help us plan for any future eventuality. In addition to considering what to do if there is a local spread, we are also monitoring the areas to which our faculty and students may travel during spring break. To this end, we do ask, for the sake of your child and our school community, that you carefully consider spring break travel plans and participation in large group events such as concerts and sporting events. All parents, students, and faculty, please alert our nurse to any spring break or other travel. Depending upon the virus’s spread and the recommendations of our primary sources of guidance, we are prepared for various responses, including, for instance, post-break screenings and delayed returns. We are even preparing “just in case” distance learning solutions for any affected students.
Finally, some students have, understandably, expressed a bit of anxiety around the virus. We are sensitive to this and are monitoring anxious or fearful student reactions so that we can create a sense of care and support. There is sometimes a fine line between open communication and alarmism. We will do our best to stay on the right side of that line while committing to being fully transparent about what we know and don’t know, and our responses to this dynamic health situation.
In summary, a couple of key take-aways:
1. Our current risk level here in New Hampshire is low, but we are being proactive so we can respond immediately as needed.
2. Please communicate any spring break travel plans with our nurse at [email protected]
so we can monitor risks and plan accordingly for the return from break.
Thank you so much for your trust and support!