Coronavirus Update, February 6, 2020

Yesterday, at Community Meeting, Sean Sun ‘21 of Shanghai talked to us about the coronavirus and its impact on his family, neighbors, city, and country, as well as his Chinese peers at Sonoma Academy. You may watch Sean’s presentation here.

This is the Chinese New Year, normally a time when people are traveling, visiting and celebrating with family and friends. It’s always a difficult time of year for our students from China to be far away from home and they were anticipating returning during the spring break. Given the current situation, however, all of them have developed alternative plans. Some will be staying in Sonoma County with their homestay families or with relatives already in the States, some will be able to join the school-sponsored college tour, and others are going elsewhere within the States. We encourage you to reach out to these students and invite them to join you if you are doing something fun and have space for one more.

Sean worries about his mother, a doctor in a large hospital in Shanghai and calls her every day. His dad is a professor at Fudan University and is working from home as the university is closed. He showed us photos of the empty streets and markets around his home. Sean also did a good job of dispelling some of the misconceptions surrounding the coronavirus and he compared rates of infection with the current influenza. He ended his presentation with this powerful reminder: “What’s a thousand times more powerful than the virus is humanity.”

Currently, residents of the Bay Area are still at low risk of becoming infected with coronavirus,
unless they have recently traveled to Wuhan or have come in close contact with someone who was ill who recently traveled in that area.

Although there is a low-risk of infection, we encourage taking common-sense precautions that prevent the spread of all infectious diseases (such as influenza and gastroenteritis).
  • If students are sick, please keep them at home!
  • If students or staff develop a fever while at school, they should go home and stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water is still the best preventative for various infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus
  • Remind students to avoid touching their face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth; and to practice proper cough etiquette—cough or sneeze into a tissue, sleeve, or arm (not into hands)
We read about an American school in Beijing that implemented a rigorous practice of handwashing during the outbreak of SARS back in the early aughts. Not only did no student, parent, or staff member become infected with SARS, they noticed that absences dropped dramatically as they were better controlling the spread of common colds and flus.

We know that anxiety can be just as infectious as the disease. The greatest triggers of anxiety are lack of control and uncertainty—and this is certainly an uncertain situation. If your child is anxious, we encourage you to remind them that the situation is, in fact, being well managed in the US, and mortality rates are extremely low.
We are wishing you good health and a Happy New Year in the Year of the Rat!

Janet Durgin
2500 Farmers Lane 
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 
(707) 545-1770

Sonoma Academy Is... the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.

Sonoma Academy admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.