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An update from the superintendent regarding the coronavirus (Monday, March 9)

| March 9, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As of today, Monday, March 9, the North Colonie Central School District does not have any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. We are carefully monitoring the situation and following all guidance from our local, state, and federal health departments. State officials continue to emphasize that the general risk to the public is low and that while we all need to be vigilant and cautious, it is also important to stay calm and not contribute to any undue panic.

On Saturday, March 7, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York, which gives the state certain purchasing and hiring abilities during this time. This declaration does not impact any North Colonie school or district activities at this time. Currently, experts from the New York State Department of Health have not recommended that the district cancel or reschedule classes or other school events. Accordingly, all school-based curricular activities will continue unless we receive different guidance from the New York State Department of Health or the Governor’s office.

During Governor Cuomo’s update this morning, he introduced a new joint regulation from the Department of Health and the State Education Department. This regulation will require a school to close for 24 hours for a mandated assessment by the Department of Health if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. Should this occur, the district will communicate this information through our website and SchoolMessenger. 

It is important to note that exposure to COVID-19 can occur from any person-to-person contact and is not limited to a particular race or ethnicity. Please be sensitive to those who may be more impacted (international students, individuals whose families have recently traveled to affected countries, students at risk for discrimination).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Please call your doctor if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

The district’s first responsibility is always the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community. There are a number of steps that our staff members are taking to help minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:

  • District administrators and school nurses are participating in all training calls with the Department of Health and our regional BOCES. If not directly involved in these sessions, they are receiving immediate updates on content, process, and protocols. 
  • Our custodial staff is continuing with routine cleaning and disinfection in line with recent guidance from the Department of Health. 
    • Specific locations such as the health office, lunchrooms, athletic rooms, and other frequently touched surfaces are cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.
  • Principals and teachers are incorporating frequent breaks and reminders (particularly at the elementary level) to allow for frequent handwashing/sanitizing
  • Principals and teachers are, to the extent possible, minimizing the sharing of classroom supplies
  • Our custodial staff is ensuring that an ample supply of disinfectant wipes are located in all of the buildings.
  • Our school nurses are ensuring that tissues are readily available in all classrooms and offices.

There are a number of steps that we can all take to help minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the New York State Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who 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.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
    • The district is asking parents to keep their children home when they are sick to keep all illnesses from spreading. Children should be symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to school.

Finally, regarding travel and quarantine measures, please know that the New York State Department of Health has made quarantine a mandatory measure for individuals returning to the United States from a known high-risk exposure area (i.e. China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea). Based on this, any student, student family member, or employee who has traveled to a known high-risk exposure area must notify the county health department and inform the school principal of the quarantine.

If students are quarantined by the Department of Health, students will be provided with their work and it will be recorded as an excused absence. Per regional guidance, if a family is choosing to self quarantine a child without a doctor’s note, it will be recorded as an unexcused absence, and the district will not necessarily be able to provide work. 

For more information and updates, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s web page for coronavirus and travel, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html.

We will continue to share more information as it becomes available. As always, if you have any questions please reach out to your school principal.

 

Sincerely,

D. Joseph Corr
Superintendent

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