Dear HPA families and Upper School Students,
As you are aware, the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has become a worldwide concern. While coronaviruses are common, the 2019-nCoV can cause severe respiratory illness, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and kidney failure.
As a day and international boarding school, HPA is closely monitoring the situation. We have confirmed that none of our students have exhibited symptoms of the 2019-nCoV. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) both state that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Students returned from Winter Break on January 5, and we are now past the symptom window.
Yesterday, January 30, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory: Do Not Travel to China. In light of the changing circumstances, we are providing the following updates:
1. In order to care for our boarding students who might otherwise need to travel to affected areas, HPA will keep the dormitories open over Spring Break (March 13 to 30, 2020). We encourage all students who live in areas with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV to remain at HPA during the entire break. We are working with our food service provider and residential faculty to ensure we have appropriate supervision and support. Once we have an understanding of the costs associated with keeping the dorms open, we will be able to communicate the nominal fee associated with staying on campus.
2. We are investigating the health risks associated with the OurWorld Travel Abroad program, planned for Spring Break, and will make a decision after further consultation with the trip providers and the most current status of the spread of 2019-nCoV. We will communicate the decision to the participating families by Friday, February 7, 2020.
3. For the safety of our students, faculty and staff, HPA has protocols in place for scheduled and unscheduled visitors from off-island to our campuses.
These actions are taken out of an abundance of caution since travelers from infected areas are being monitored by the CDC. Various countries are working hard to control the spread of 2019-nCoV and at this time Hawai’i Island is considered low-risk. As stated on the CDC website, “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low. The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to prevent sustained spread of 2019-nCov in this country.”
For all our families, exercising good judgment and caution will protect everyone’s health. Our Health Services Office recommends that the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including influenza, are:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects/surfaces.
Should you exhibit any symptoms, however minor, we urge you to make an appointment to see your health care provider. Boarding students are encouraged to visit our campus infirmary located in the Health Services Office.
In addition, as a long-standing day and international boarding school, HPA is proud of the diversity that exists in our community. While this epidemic may seem far away from Hawai’i Island, it impacts many of us who have loved ones in the affected regions. One strength of HPA has always been the support that we provide to each other, and we ask our ‘ohana to continue to show kindness and empathy to one another.
Wishing you good health,
Patrick J. Phillips
Head of School