Dear Parents and Community Members,
The topic of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus has certainly and understandably dominated our conversations, media, future planning, and daily living. The term “flatten the curve” has become a phrase that is important and will be referenced later in this communication. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases locally, however, we have been taking proactive action and are planning for options should that information change. A West Genesee Task Force of building/department representatives has been formed to address areas of action and planning.
We continue to work with Onondaga County Department of Health, NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH), NYS Education Department (NYSED), and all information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and NYS and National Government Officials. As a region, our schools are also committed to working together to support one another.
Currently, our website has information and links from organizations that include definitions, symptoms, strategies of non-pharmaceutical interventions (hand washing, cough/sneeze techniques, social distancing), and protocols relative to reporting or seeking medical care.
West Genesee has been prioritizing high volume areas for cleaning, such as doorknobs, desktops, and other “high touch” areas. Our buses have been sprayed for sterilization continuously, and hand sanitizers, wipes, and appropriate cleaning products are being supplied. The District is following the cleaning and disinfection recommendations from NYSDOH, focusing on specific high-risk locations. Information from the Health Department has been shared with all Buildings and Grounds Departments.
There are posted signs with reminders, including the reiteration of hand hygiene techniques and the 20-second approach for quality. As with the regular cold and flu season, it is important that we continue to follow recommendations to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses. Please share the following important reminders from the NYS Department of Health with your children and family members:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The procedure regarding individuals showing symptoms is that they will be brought to the school’s health office and isolated. The assessment of symptoms will include that of a temperature of 99.5° or higher. A student’s parent will be contacted and they will be isolated with an appropriate mask until they are picked up. Schools are not positioned to screen or diagnose. Parents should contact their primary care physician. Per direction from NYS Governor Cuomo, a school with a confirmed case of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus is required to be closed for a minimum of 24 hours.
Due to the potential of closure scenarios, we are preparing for potential distance learning and nutritional support. We are surveying families regarding a need for devices and internet coverage and are prepared to provide Chromebooks to any of our students in need. (Click here to complete the survey.) We will revisit the internet capability with potential for “hot spots”.
We are also preparing to support students with food beginning with those who receive free and reduced lunch or those expressing food insecurity. (Click here to complete this form and for additional information.) You will be provided more information as either of these take place.
As an example, the above is a strategy of “flattening the curve”. The term is intended to slow down the rate of infection to spread the volume across time. Another example of social distancing is seen in recent decisions of colleges, collegiate and professional athletics, and concerts/events of large numbers. The restriction of a 500-plus person maximum does not apply to schools, however, we are taking measures and postponing events for social distancing purposes and to delay the rate of contamination. For now, these postponements or cancellations, including that of large gatherings or travel, will be communicated on a case-by-case basis and come from the specific department or leader.
It is important to note that the circumstances will stretch our professionals. Our Custodial and Building and Grounds crews are working across areas in order to support the overall effort. Our Transportation Department is preparing for any necessary adjustment, including additional runs or other creative measures, as necessary. Any of these adjustments will be communicated, should they arise.
We are experiencing an unusual and, in some ways, an unprecedented time. The need for planning, flexibility, and contingencies with changing circumstances will be important. It has been my experience that West Genesee is a strong community committed to our children and each other. We will continue to work together and communicate to support each other.
For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus be sure to check our website page dedicated to updating the community about this important health issue.
David C. Bills
Superintendent of Schools
West Genesee CSD