New Coronavirus (COVID-19) - March 5 Update
March 5, 2020
Dear KLSD Families,
I’m writing to provide the latest updates related to the new coronavirus.
I continue to be in frequent communication with and receive guidance from local and State departments of health and school officials throughout our region. Earlier today, I was on a call with representatives from the Governor’s office.
At the time of this writing, there are 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NYS. With the quantity of testing rapidly rising, we can expect the number of confirmed cases to rise (even by the time you’re reading this).
Importantly, there are currently no cases that we’re aware of in our District. Department of Health has assured us that if/when there is a confirmed case, alerting the impacted school district is one of their highest priorities. In other words, when there is a case that may impact our schools, we will know very quickly.
At this time, health departments are not advising schools to cancel trips or after-school events, with the exception of trips to those five countries that are currently on the CDC’s travel advisory list. They do caution, however, that as the situation evolves, that list and their advice may change. KLSD is not canceling any trips or events in the coming days, but we are mindful of future trips/events that require a non-refundable financial commitment. We are making those decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Health department also advises that with an increasing number of confirmed cases, we can expect more people to have had contact with a case, or to have had contact with someone who had contact with a case. Simply having contact (a parent working in a facility, for example, where a case was treated) is not cause for alarm. Each case is handled individually and schools are advised appropriately.
We can also expect that a greater number of students and some of our colleagues will be out of school in the coming days/weeks. This is a good thing. Along with the CDC, we continue to advise that if you’re sick, you should stay home. So a greater number of absentees is not cause for alarm.
If your children are anxious about this issue, try to reassure them with facts. The number of confirmed cases remains a tiny fraction of the population. Children are among the least impacted by the virus. For the vast majority of people who get the virus, and particularly for young people, it is no different than any other mild illness. They will get better. Don’t hesitate to contact members of our clinical staff in school if you have questions or concerns.
Know that our teachers have been reminded not to put undue academic pressure on our students. Students must feel comforted by the idea that if they get sick, they’ll have time to recuperate at home with no academic consequences. Please reinforce that message at home.
Sadly, there is the possibility of stereotyping, xenophobia, and resulting teasing and/or bullying. I’ve asked our staff to remind students, if necessary, that this virus does not discriminate on the basis of nationality, race, gender, or any other category you can think of. As always, we will encourage and model kindness and compassion.
For all, standard prevention behaviors as recommended by the CDC continue to be most important:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- 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.
We continue to clean all our facilities – classrooms, offices, and buses – in compliance with CDC recommendations. We give additional focus to high touch areas, to nurses’ offices, to bathrooms, and to any locations that have included known clusters of sick students/staff (as we do during any flu season).
I often write about our partnership with our families, and it has certainly never been more important when it comes to the health and safety of our students. If you have questions, concerns, or information to share with us about a situation in your family, please reach out to your building principal. Communication is, perhaps, our very best defense.
Barring something dramatic, please expect to hear from me again on this topic next week.
Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Schools