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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    Gonzaga takes unprecedented actions to stop the spread of coronavirus

    The Gonzaga College High School campus is practically empty, as students and staff started holding class virtually Monday, March 16.
    By Alex Svenburg–

    The novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been raising alarms all across the globe. As of the time of writing this article, there have been 4,138 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and at least 71 deaths associated with the virus in the United States. The virus is spread via contact with somebody who has been infected by COVID-19.

    As most people already know, Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the “incubation period” for the virus, which is the time between catching the virus and beginning to show symptoms of the disease, is estimated to range from one to 14 days, most commonly around five days. This means that an individual could be infected with the virus for up to two weeks without even knowing that he or she had it. More data is still needed to get better estimates.

    COVID-19 has infected thousands around the world and caused major disruptions to daily life.

    Simple measures help prevent spreading the virus in the community. Experts suggest the simplest and most important measures people can take are to wash our hands frequently throughout the day for a good 20 seconds and also to avoid touching your face. According to a 2015 study done by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), it is estimated that people touch their faces about 23 times per hour. Touching your face with unclean and unwashed hands is one of the easiest ways to transfer germs which can lead to infection.

    Another important measure to take in the prevention of this disease is to stay home when you are sick and to avoid shaking hands as well as any other unnecessary touching. One safe alternative to shaking hands that has recently risen in popularity is ‘bumping elbows’ as a way of greeting somebody. Avoiding crowds and other large gatherings of people is crucial to mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Staying home and social distancing is now crucial to keep the illness manageable.

    To prevent the virus, Gonzaga slowly took unprecedented actions, first increasing cleanliness on campus and limiting visitors and then closing the physical campus completely.

    Last week, in an email sent out to families on March 6, Gonzaga Headmaster Thomas Every stated that “Gonzaga is working with our custodial provider to ramp up disinfectant protocols around campus to keep our environment as safe as possible. Soap dispensers and hand sanitizer stations around camps will be kept filled and functioning.”

    Another change that Gonzaga initially introduced last week to help minimize the spread was limiting who was on campus. Guest speakers and visitors were no longer allowed on campus.French teacher Alexia Gino-Saliba was forced to postpone last Thursday’s annual French Honor Society induction ceremony due to concerns over the virus.

    “We don’t want parents to have to come in. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do,” said Gino-Saliba.

    Since then, Gonzaga has made the decision to close its campus and switch to virtual learning in order to protect members of the Gonzaga community from the rapidly-spreading COVID-19. In an email sent out to parents of the Gonzaga community on March 12, Fr. Planning stated that “due to growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Gonzaga has made the decision to move to virtual learning for the two weeks leading up to spring break.” You can view the full letter by clicking on this link:

    In a more recent letter sent to parents on March 16, Gonzaga chief operating officer Stephen Neill stated that Fr. Stephen Planning, president of Gonzaga, has tested positive for COVID-19. According to the letter, Fr. Planning “is feeling relatively well” and is “doing what is urgently required from all of us during this time – namely self quarantining.” Fr. Planning is contacting those he came into contact with, as well.

    As the virus continues to shake the world, Gonzaga students are left adapting to online classes, and Maryland is closing restaurants and gyms. Social distancing is encouraged as an attempt to “flatten the curve” in the hopes that hospitals can handle the influx of cases.

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    • C

      Carol CorganMar 17, 2020 at 6:08 am

      Wonderful work, Alex. Your article is every bit as well-written as something appearing in the Post. You have done a service to the school community with this piece. And it reminds us to keep each other, and especially Fr. Planning, in our prayers.

    • L

      Leslie KeiserMar 16, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      I love that we have the Aquilian Daily now. It is so timely. Thanks for this article.

    • P

      Pam ValeirasMar 16, 2020 at 8:07 pm

      Great article! Such up-to-date information!