Boston, MA - Since early January, we have been tracking the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation. As the number of COVID-19 cases grows, we must continue to do everything we can to ensure that Perkins School for the Blind remains as safe a place as possible for our entire community. We have no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 on campus, but with the virus now established in the U.S. we are intensifying our institutional response to be especially vigilant in reducing the potential for exposure to COVID-19 at this critical time.
Because the health and wellbeing of our students, families and staff are of highest priority, last week I appointed the Perkins CoronaVirus Task Force with representatives from across our community to define common sense practices; develop consistent, campus-wide response strategies; respond quickly to issues that arise; and field questions from families and employees.
I write now to share important new guidelines about campus visitors, on-campus events, travel and common-sense precautionary measures. These guidelines were developed out of precaution to help identify possible risks, to minimize risk of exposure to staff and students, to assist in making good choices and to help reduce the possible spread of infection in consideration of the well-being of everyone in the Perkins community.
The guidelines represent our best judgment, at this moment, about practical steps we can all take to reduce risk for ourselves and for each other.
Since future challenges from COVID-19 could disrupt critical campus functions, we are developing contingency plans for student care and education, on-campus quarantining if necessary and more.
Additionally, CDC-recommended precautions are being taken to ensure appropriate cleaning. In this uncertain moment, I have every confidence in our community’s ability to pull together with kindness, care and concern for the common good. Additional updates will be provided as this unfolding situation evolves.
Dave Power, CEO, Perkins School for the Blind
NEW GUIDELINES FOR CAMPUS VISITORS, ON-CAMPUS EVENTS AND TRAVEL: MARCH 11–MAY 15, 2020
The CoronaVirus Task Force designed these guidelines to protect our campus and community from potentially-infected visitors; help our community members stay healthy when they are on and off campus; and keep our employees and students away from campus when they are sick.
The guidelines below will take effect immediately and will remain in place through at least May 15, 2020. During this period of time we will continue to review these guidelines, provide regular updates and offer guidance about activities after May 15 as soon as we can.
If you have questions about how these guidelines apply in your own situation, the Perkins CoronaVirus Task Force can field your requests. Please contact CoronaVirus@Perkins.org.
Only those visitors with a business necessity will be permitted into campus buildings (this could include employees, student interns and co-ops, contractors, job applicants and business partners) through at least May 15, 2020. Eligible visitors from countries which the CDC has declared Level 3 or Level 2 cannot join us on campus until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine.
Effective immediately, we will not use volunteers on campus.
To protect our population, we are cancelling all museum and campus tours through May 15, 2020.
TRAVEL: PERKINS BUSINESS
Travel can increase the risks of exposure to you and the community. Government travel restrictions and public health measures are changing rapidly. Those changes may make it difficult for you to return to campus and resume activities.
Effective immediately, we are suspending all international travel for all Perkins staff on Perkins business. We also strongly discourage personal travel to international locations by any Perkins community member. If you must travel to any country on the CDC’s COVID-19 travel advisories page, and for those returning from Level 3 and Level 2 countries - you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.
Additionally, all Perkins-related non-essential domestic air travel is prohibited. If you need help understanding if a planned trip is essential or not, please contact your direct manager who can consult with the CoronaVirus Task Force if necessary.
All events with the potential for more than 25 total attendees (including both Perkins participants and external attendees) that will take place between now and April 30, 2020 on campus or off campus, will be postponed, cancelled or “virtualized” it. These new guidelines do not apply to internal gatherings attended solely by members of the Perkins on-campus community.
We chose 25 people as a threshold to help reduce risk of transmission without calling a halt to all activity on campus. However, group size is only one factor to consider in planning an event – and our success in managing the risk of COVID-19 depends not only on the existence of these policies, but on your cooperation and common sense.
COMMON SENSE PRACTICES
It is important for staff, students and eligible campus visitors to stay home when they are ill and have any of the following symptoms: temperature greater than 100, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, any rash not yet diagnosed by a physician, red or pink itchy eye, and/or drainage from eye, and any contagious illness such as chicken pox, strep throat or flu.
We encourage members of the Perkins community to use their best judgment when making decisions about travel, attending large events, and to remember to frequently wash hands and when this is not possible, use hand sanitizer. Additionally, avoid handshakes.
PERKINS CLASSES AND INSTRUCTIONAL MEETINGS
All meetings and classes attended by members of the on-campus community can continue to be held as normal. However, please stay home if you feel sick, and urge others to do so. Encourage handwashing, provide hand sanitizer and tissues, minimize communal food, and educate your students and colleagues about proper precautions.
For support or questions, please email CoronaVirus@perkins.org.
These guidelines reflect Perkins’ official position as of March 10, 2020. In this fluid situation, they may need to change in the future with little warning.