With concerns swirling about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I wanted to let you know how EXPLO is approaching this outbreak and provide information on how we’ve handled similar situations in the past, lessons learned, and how we are prepared for the summer. Our highest priority has been, and always will be, the safety of our students and staff.
EXPLO is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. We are monitoring the reports and recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state Departments of Public Health, and conferring with our medical advisors. We are also in touch with each of our partner campuses on an ongoing basis.
As you may know, cases of COVID-19 are affecting the elderly and those with underlying health conditions most severely. Three months into this outbreak, we are learning that people 30 and older are far more apt to contract the disease than people under the age of 30. In fact, young people under the age of 20 are not contracting the disease at significant rates. So far, it appears that youth is a protective factor.
COVID-19 is not the first outbreak EXPLO has faced. We have had significant experience planning and running programs during both SARS and the H1N1 outbreaks. (I remember both most vividly and was intimately involved in our preparations and response, as were several members of the current EXPLO team.)
Unlike many other summer programs, EXPLO has a dedicated health center on each of our campuses with registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These health centers serve only EXPLO students. We work closely with nearby pediatrics practices, and there are excellent full-service hospitals just minutes from each of our campuses. Though we hope that it would never be needed, we also have the ability to isolate and care for any student that may develop flu-like symptoms while on campus, and we know precisely how to do it properly because we’ve done it before and we train every year on this isolation protocol.
Here in the United States, the CDC continues to report that risk to the general public is still relatively low. That said, the CDC and WHO tell us that it is still far too early to make any decisions about how this will evolve in the next few months. EXPLO is fully expecting to run all of our programs as usual, but will continue to keep families informed as more information becomes available and as we get closer to the summer. When SARS reared its head, we required every student to be screened by our health staff on site before registering for the program. Right now, I can’t predict that we will take such action again, but as we get closer to the summer, we will make that determination.
One thing we learned with both the SARS and H1N1 scares is that public anxiety can sometimes be out of proportion to the reality of the actual threat. Therefore, it is important that we all work with facts, not rumors.
- We strongly encourage you to use the CDC website and the WHO website to stay informed, rather than relying on other media outlets. Obsessive information gathering can lead to the unintended consequence of driving up fear and stress levels, which in turn can dampen your immune response.
- Should EXPLO need to close a Program, which we believe is highly unlikely, we would provide enrolled families with a refund.
- If a student is unable to come to the United States/our campuses at the time of the Program due to travel bans, airport closing, or other governmental shutdown, EXPLO will work with enrolled families to arrange a refund.
EXPLO will continue to monitor the situation closely and we will adjust our response based on confirmed facts. Our assessment at this time, based on the best available evidence, is that the threat to EXPLO students for the coming summer is low. Should the situation change, we will, of course, be in touch with you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 781.762.7400.