Coronavirus Update

With all of the information published on the news about the potential for the Coronavirs to potentially become a global pandemic, I expect that you might have some questions about how we are preparing for this in the schools.  The Board of Health has been actively involved in communication with the CDC and other local agencies to ensure that there are plans and procedures for the potential dispensing of vaccines and providing a space to shelter if needed in  the schools. I know that the Board of Health Agent Deb Rogers has been working for some time with the state to be sure that all aspects of a response plan are approved and ready in case it is necessary.  Deb will be my contact and we have already discussed our current preparedness protocols including our existing sickness protocols and plans for emergency shelters and distribution sites and we will be monitoring documented cases of the flu (and other viruses should they arise), and school attendance as needed.  At this time, we are ready and waiting to see if further action is needed but I want to assure you that the town departments and the Board of Health are on top of this situation should action be required.

As you may recall, many years ago we all dealt with the H1N1 and Noro viruses in a similar situation and the same protocols used in that case are ready at hand.  We will continue review any new recommendations and I will be updating parents via this email blog Carol’s Corner.   We are operating under the advise of the state’s DPH and following recommendations from both MDPH and the CDC and will continue to do so.  All local health departments in the region will continue to monitor the situation and take part in weekly conference calls. The state and local health departments have the legal authority to quarantine, if and when necessary. The schools were disinfected over the break and will continue to be cleaned thoroughly during this flu season to assist with the spread of germs.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has shared guidance for school administrators and school health personnel regarding the new Coronavirus, known as COVID-19. As of this writing, Massachusetts has one confirmed case of COVID-19 and the risk to our residents remains low. In the US, there are only 53 cases confirmed.  Only one of these cases was confirmed to be passed through human contact (husband to wife).  At the same time, the risk for the influenza virus is very high. It is important to note that residents are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19. The guidance letter sent to all schools is available at the DPH website at: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.  Here is a useful fact sheet in many languages to assist you in learning about this virus:  https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19#-printable-fact-sheets-

Trends with the Coronavirus currently indicate that the primary group hit hardest by the virus are males 50+ with existing chronic conditions.  We remind you that washing of hands is the best defense so you should wash your hands regularly for the length of time that it takes to sing the alphabet twice.  Please remember to cover your mouth if you cough and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with your hands.  Families, please keep your children out of school if they are sick and they should be fever free for 24 hours prior to coming back to school.  We will help all students make up missed work and instruction.

Reminders
For up-to-date information regarding the 2019 novel Coronavirus, please visit the DPH COVID-19 web site at www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus More detailed information and additional guidance is available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov  For questions, contact the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at (617) 983-6800