Current COVID-19 preventative measures at LFA

Mia Walvoord and Angelina Chan, Editors-in-Cheif

Following the CDC’s recent announcement, warning of a possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus
(COVID-19) in the United States, compounded by the current wave of cold and flu cases sweeping
through our community, LFA is working to establish preventative measures addressing for any possible
outbreaks that may occur on campus. The policies currently under development are meant to address the
big picture of health at LFA; the goal is that they will be applicable to both current and future instances.
“Vigilant handwashing and Purell use. That’s really the only avoidance,” advised Head Nurse Michelle
Reich, on how students could avoid getting sick. She also recommended not sharing food or drinks, and
“trying as much as they can to get a good night’s sleep, drink fluids, and eat well.”
The Nurse’s Office is additionally increasing some measures to screen students who may have flu
symptoms. “This year, the flu shot has not been as effective as it has in previous years,” said Reich. “The
type of flu that should be covered by the flu shot that is given this year is not being covered… so [there is]
a very large outbreak of flu this year across the country.”
As well as screening for symptoms of the flu – such as fever, cough, and chills – Reich also keeps in mind
the possibility, however low, of the novel coronavirus. “If we get those signs of flu, we would be asking
and thinking of recent travel to China…[or if] they were in large airports… we’ll need to be more
concerned about that after Spring Break.”
In response to international concern over the coronavirus, LFA has instituted the creation of a new
committee, with its finger on the pulse of all aspects of the situation. The committee is responsible for
handling many specified tasks, including managing outgoing communications regarding the coronavirus
and instituting new policies meant to promote the health of the community as a whole.
Dean of Students, Chris Tennyson remarked, “When you have a situation like we have right now, where a
coronavirus emerges and creates some alarm and needs attention, we have a committee that’s looking at
that. That committee involves Communications, and given this time of year, Admissions because of
visitors to campus; it involves the Dean of Students Office and the Head of School Office and it involves
the Stuart Center as they do some travel programs and it involves our summer session team, and so we’ve
got a number of people in play there.”
This is not the first time the LFA has been faced with an outbreak. In fact, LFA has dealt with similar
issues twice before. The school developed some of its preliminary “outbreak policies” during the
proliferation of H1N1 and SARS earlier in the decade. Previous experience with these cases has been
crucially helpful as LFA has recently worked to update school policies and practices promoting healthy
behaviors and vigilance. For example, the school has made sure to have all students presenting with flu
like symptoms tested at local medical facilities, such as the Acute Care center in Lake Forest.
Undeniably, there are some very general similarities between the coronavirus and previous outbreaks
faced by the LFA community. However, there is still much about the nature of the new virus and its
timing that have presented new challenges to administration.
In previous outbreaks, the school did not have to deal with the possible confusion and complications
associated with Spring Break travel- specifically international travel. Countries across the globe,
including the U.S., are attempting to combat the spread of the virus by restricting movement between
countries and continents. Such actions have presented challenges for members of the LFA community,
chiefly in terms of school-sponsored trips and international students who had planned to return home
during the break.

“With the earlier ones [outbreaks such as H1N1 and SARS], I don’t recall that we needed to think about
travel restrictions and those types of things and so that’s why this is very new so as we come out of this, it
is going to allow us to put some thought into it [in terms of setting a precedent],” acknowledged
Tennyson.
On campus, however, the Nurse’s Office is adding a few extra steps to further prepare the LFA
community for any possibility of an outbreak.
“We’ve ordered additional masks, gloves, hand sanitizers. We’re doing additional screening [if]
somebody has a cough, sending day students home with coughs, testing or taking kids here unless they
have a classic case of flu,” said Head Nurse Reich. “We’re doing a lot to prevent this spread of flu as well
as anything related to coronavirus. The risk in Illinois is still very, very, very low, but we are taking it
quite seriously.”