Coronavirus Preparations and Update

Clerc Center community,

We are aware of the concerns of our community, as well as the recent statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), regarding the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The best way to mitigate fears and protect our students and each other is to have a plan should coronavirus impact our community.

The Clerc Center is currently working closely with the Gallaudet University Crisis Leadership Team (CLT) on reviewing plans to ensure that our community remains safe and healthy. We are also closely monitoring recommendations from the various public health agencies on a local and national level.

In an effort to share up-to-date information about the coronavirus and campus preparations, the CLT is producing short informational videos. Employees will receive these directly from the CLT and we will forward them to families.

We also want to share our plan to address three main components of health and safety:

  1. The ongoing steps we will use to help prevent the spread of all diseases in our schools — flu, corona, or otherwise:
    We encourage all members of our community to practice the best sanitary habits possible, and proactively encourage all students to do the same. We ask that all employees take extra measures to clean classrooms and offices daily including desks, doorknobs,
    videophone remotes, telephones, and shared classroom items. The custodial team will continue to clean and sanitize classrooms and common areas, and will be increasing disinfecting efforts in the cafeterias as well. All classrooms, the MSSD residence hall,
    and the gymnasiums have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. and the front office of each building has additional supplies on hand.As a best practice for overall health in cold and influenza season, the CDC recommends that individuals receive the influenza vaccination and engage in everyday, preventive measures to prevent the spread of germs and avoid illness, such as:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness.
    • Stay home from work or school until you are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours and without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medications.
    • Seek medical attention if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus or influenza. Call your healthcare provider before visiting a health care facility
    • Call ahead to the Student Health Service with your symptoms first. SHS can then triage these students to protect
      other students and health providers as well. This way we can give them appointments and they are not just walking in and sitting for long periods of
      time.
  2. Steps the Clerc Center will follow if coronavirus starts to spread in our geographical area:
    As of March 5, there are three cases of coronavirus in Montgomery County, Maryland, but none yet in the District of Columbia or Virginia. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and seek guidance on school-specific actions released by the local and national authorities. If you are traveling to areas with identified cases of coronavirus, please take extra precautions for you and your child, following guidance from the appropriate authorities.
  3. What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in our schools or on the Gallaudet campus?
    In the event of a confirmed case of coronavirus on campus, our schools will need to close for the safety of our community. This is obviously not a decision we would make lightly. It would require careful coordination with families. More information about what a closure might look like will be communicated separately. In the event of a closure, the recommendations of the CDC and local health departments will be followed and communicated to all families immediately.

The health and safety of our students and our community remains our top priority. By working together, we will continue to keep all members of our community safe and healthy. Please watch for additional communications, and contact us or the school leadership teams with any questions.

Thank you,
Marianne Belsky, Chief Academic Officer
Nicole Sutliffe, Chief Administrative Officer