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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    Coronavirus hits the DMV; Gonzaga prepares

    President+Donald+J.+Trump%2C+joined+by+Vice+President+Mike+Pence%2C+takes+questions+from+reporters+during+a+Coronavirus+Task+Force+update+Saturday%2C+Feb.+29%2C+2020%2C+in+the+James+S.+Brady+Press+Briefing+Room+of+the+White+House.+%28Official+White+House+Photo+D.+Myles+Cullen%29
    President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, takes questions from reporters during a Coronavirus Task Force update Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo D. Myles Cullen)

    On March 5 Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had three positive COVID-19 cases.

    In a press release, Governor Hogan’s office stated: “We have been actively preparing for this situation over the last several weeks across all levels of government. I encourage all Marylanders not to panic, but to take this seriously and to stay informed as we continue to provide updates.”

    Until these three cases, the DMV had avoided any positive tests, but these tests spawned a series of events forcing schools in the area, including Gonzaga, to start releasing information and plans in case of closures.

    Headmaster Tom Every began sharing the plans with the Gonzaga community in an email sent on March 6. Since then, the District has two positive cases, Virginia has two and Maryland has five, as of the morning of March 9. 

    Headmaster Every explained that the current plan, in the event of a closure less than one whole week, the school will follow the “Continuity of Learning Policy” where teachers will post assignments on Canvas and students will have deadlines but be able to complete work at their own pace within that time frame.

    Above is a list of common symptoms of the Coronavirus. (https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/)

    For closures that last more than one week, classes will be fully online where students log onto Canvas at their normal class times and participate in discussion boards, activities or Google Hangouts for their class time; the teacher and students would communicate for their class from home.

    “Obviously, we’re following the recommendations of the CDC, Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, the State Department and D.C. Health Department, so if D.C. health departments say to [close], then we’ll close. […] But right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Mr. Every explained.

    Sporting events will also be potentially affected; if school is cancelled for any reason, sports will not be allowed to play, practice or scrimmage. Unless it is advised to limit spectators at events, Gonzaga will make a decision on the basis of what is safe. 

    In the past, Gonzaga has had to close for more than a week. In February 2010, ‘Snowmageddon’ buried the DMV area with up to three feet of snow. This has been the only time in recent history there has been a closure for an extended period of time. 

    Controlling the spread of the virus is extremely important, and Mr. Every made it clear that Gonzaga would focus on increasing cleanliness around the campus.

    “You should see signs soon go up and say wash your hands right everywhere. That’s kind of the mantra, but our custodial services provider Palm Services is stepping up their disinfecting protocols in the evenings, […] making sure they hit all high touch points like doorknobs and rails and, you know, sinks and bathroom stalls and things like that,” Mr. Every explained. 

    He also said that high traffic areas, such as the weight room, the nurse’s office and the cafeteria are getting extra sanitation every night with cleansers that actually kill viruses, as well as germs. 

    In an email sent out on Friday, March 6 to Gonzaga families, Mr. Every published the plan if Gonzaga is to close due to the virus. One topic in the email included spring break trips for teams and clubs, such as rowing, golf and the ski club. 

    “In terms of student travel, we are making decisions based on guidance from the CDC, WHO, and State Department. We are also considering trip deposit and refund deadlines and willingness and availability of faculty chaperones, all the while keeping student and community health and safety paramount. Please be aware that any trip international or domestic, could unfortunately be cancelled at this time” Mr. Every wrote. 

    Most recently, students and faculty decided not to be allowed to travel to Spain for the yearly trip with the Camino Course. 

    The class’s Instagram post stated: “Due to the high risk and uncertain trajectory of COVID-19, we’ve had to make the decision to cancel our pilgrimage […], keeping the health and safety of the students, chaperones and school community in mind. … Just like the Camino, we follow the path laid out in front of us, uncertain of what is to come, but always finding solace in the fact that the way marks will always lead us in the right direction.”

    The map shows all countries and territories that have at least one positive test. (https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/)

    Students and faculty are being asked to self-report where they are going internationally or domestically over spring break. If the destination is tiered location designated by the US State Department or the CDC,  “individuals who travel to any of these areas may be asked to self-quarantine upon their return,” according to the email. 

    In the email, Mr. Every also stated, “All members of school communities are asked to monitor the evolving spread of the virus and to be vigilant regarding both international and domestic travel.”

    At Gonzaga, a suspected coronavirus will be taken seriously. When asked what will happen if a student shows symptoms, Mr. Every explained, “It’s a case by case basis, but most likely we would ask that student to self quarantine, meaning go home for two weeks, check in with his doctor and get tested to see if it’s affirmative.Then, if it is proven to be not affirmative or negative, then they can come back to campus, and if you’re worried about missing school, I would say don’t worry about missing school. Health is that main factor; school will always be here. We can figure that out after the fact, but health is primary and the primary concern.”

    As of Sunday night, according to The Washington Post, the only school in the D.C. region to close is Schools Without Walls High School, located in Foggy Bottom; a staff member came into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, although that staff member has tested negative for COVID-19 so far.

    Washing hands and staying on top of personal hygiene as this is the best defense against getting and spreading the Coronavirus. Gonzaga is sure of its ability to keep the population safe if students can help each other out with always washing hands after using the restroom or between periods. 

    https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/

    In the e-mail, Mr. Every also recommended that in case of a closure, students make sure that they have a dependable device, that they know how to use discussion boards and Google Hangouts and that they take books home every weekend.

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    • P

      Pamela ValeirasMar 9, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      Excellent and informative! Keep up the great reporting and writing!

      Reply
    • L

      Leslie KeiserMar 9, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Valuable, up-to-the-minute information. Thank you.

      Reply