Dear APH Community,
As you know, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has been receiving a lot of media attention. I want to share some important information about The Academy at Penguin Hall’s Health and Safety Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus.) This communication includes important details about COVID-19 and contains essential updates to our International Travel Policy as a result of the virus outbreak. We understand the abundance of news regarding COVID-19 is unsettling, and recognize our families may have questions as to how the virus could impact them and our school.
We know this is a dynamic situation, but please rest assured that as a school community, the health and well-being of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff is the Administration’s top priority. We are very closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan, China. While the risk of the spread of COVID-19 continues to remain low in Massachusetts and throughout New England, we are vigilant in our efforts to stay current on all available information. This includes the daily monitoring of COVID-19 updates from the World Health Organization, (WHO) the United States Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) and local authorities, including the Wenham Board of Health.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and after careful deliberation with all members of Penguin Hall’s Administrative Team, we have made important updates to our school’s health and safety protocols, which are listed below. We also want to share the most current information available about COVID-19 and its impact on Massachusetts residents, and provide preventive care resources and hygiene reminders to help reduce your exposure to all contagious illnesses.
In efforts to preserve the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, The Academy at Penguin Hall now asks all members of our community to make the APH Administrative team aware in advance any planned travel, especially international travel. If your planned travel is to countries or states that are deemed of medium to high risk by the CDC, and you are unable to postpone your travel, please understand that we expect you to participate in a two-week quarantine period upon your return to the United States. We will help students coordinate academic work through the quarantine period.
Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recommended that all Massachusetts schools cancel their planned international school trips, amid concerns of the spread of Coronavirus. As a result, we have decided to cancel the APH Foreign Language Department’s planned trip to Costa Rica over the April Vacation break. We did not make this decision lightly; however, as a school, we must adhere to Governor Baker’s warning. For families who are directly impacted by this decision, please know we are actively working with our trip’s vendor and we will be in touch with more details soon.
Facts about novel COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. As of March 6, 2020, there is only one confirmed case of Coronavirus in the state of Massachusetts. The virus demonstrates Influenza-like symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The virus incubation period is believed to be 2-14 days, and is thought to spread from person-to-person; and between people who are in close contact with one another; and through respiratory droplets produced through coughing or sneezing.
According to the CDC, people are thought to be the most contagious when they are symptomatic; however, as with most viruses, it is possible to contract the virus through touching a contaminated surface.
We ask that you continue to help keep our community safe by taking the following precautions to prevent the transmittal of infectious diseases, especially during Flu season, which remains ongoing.
Important Reminders and Best Hygiene Practices
There is no current vaccine to prevent or eliminate the spread of COVID-19, and the best way to prevent contracting the illness is to minimize your exposure risk to the virus. Here are a few helpful reminders and best practices to stay healthy from Coronavirus, Influenza, and other contagious illnesses:
- Frequently wash your hands, especially before and after eating, or using a restroom
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable
- Cover your coughs and sneeze into your elbows, forearms or tissues
- Avoid sneezing into your hands. If you must do so, wash your hands as soon as possible with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Try utilizing the “Happy Birthday” washing technique, and sing the song through two times while you wash
- After washing your hands, use a clean paper towel or tissue to turn off the faucet and open doors
- Stay home if you’re ill, especially if running a fever or have flu-like symptoms Please note: in order to return to school, you must be fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill
- Disinfect frequently touched objects or common surfaces (door knobs, light switches, etc.) with a disinfecting cleaning wipe or spray
I recognize there is a lot of information circling through the media about COVID-19, and that new stories are emerging daily. Please know the health, safety and well-being of every one of our students, faculty and staff is my highest priority, and that I will continue to provide this community with the most up-to-date information available as necessary. I have also listed some helpful resources below that will provide you with more information.
On behalf of the entire Penguin Hall Administration, Faculty and Staff, thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
The Academy at Penguin Hall