Education

District Taking Steps to Safeguard Students From Enterovirus D68

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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With concerns about Enterovirus D68 spreading, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District Superintendent Victor Hayek is asking parents to be aware.

Enterovirus D68 is a respiratory virus that has sent hundreds of children to the hospital in states across the country.

Hayek, in an email blast to parents Thursday, said New Jersey's first case of the virus was confirmed Thursday morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The child has improved and been discharged from the hospital, he said.

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Hayek is asking parents to take preventative measures to help keep the virus from spreading in the district, including diligent hand washing, not sharing drinking cups and keeping children home from school if they are sick.

"Our intent is not to alarm you, but rather to inform you about the problem and to assure you that we are taking reasonable steps to prevent the spread of this virus should it come to New Jersey," he said in the letter.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Parents, Guardians:

Enterovirus D68 is in the news every day as more confirmed cases are verified.  This morning, New Jersey's first case of the virus has been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The confirmed case involved a child who was a patient at a Philadelphia hospital where two other cases were also confirmed. The child has improved and has been discharged, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. 

I am writing to you today to make you aware of this issue and to also ask for your help in coordinating our efforts to limit the potential spread of the Enterovirus and other viruses in our school system.  It is especially important to have the help of parents because children are far more likely to be infected.

According to the Center for Disease Control, symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.  In other words, it looks like the symptoms of the common cold.  After the initial symptoms, it becomes more serious with children experiencing difficulty breathing, and in some cases, wheezing.  Many of these children have asthma or a history of wheezing.

Transmission of the virus is believed to be through respiratory secretions, nasal mucous, or sputum/saliva.  Like the common cold, this virus is likely spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches public surfaces that have been contaminated. The only treatment for this illness is supportive measures.  There is no vaccine or antiviral medication available for EV-D68 infection. 

There are many things we can do to limit the impact the virus has on our children.   Preventive measures include diligent hand washing, the avoidance of touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, not sharing drinking cups or utensils with other people, and the avoidance of close personal contact if someone is sick.  In and around your home, frequently touched surfaces should be disinfected regularly, including door knobs, light switches and toys.  One of the most important ways you can help the school system is to make sure to keep your child at home if they are sick, especially if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.

At each school, we have instructed our facilities and maintenance staff to “raise the bar” with our cleaning efforts with special attention given to the 'hotspots' or areas of frequent contact such as doors.  We will also be increasing the frequency of our cleaning efforts.

I have included an info graphic from the Center for Disease Control that provides you with some simple tips that will help you better protect your children as well as an FAQ from the New Jersey Department of Health.  

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and advise you accordingly.  Our intent is not to alarm you, but rather to inform you about the problem and to assure you that we are taking reasonable steps to prevent the spread of this virus should it come to New Jersey.
Sincerely,

Dr. Victor P. Hayek
Superintendent of Schools

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