MONTVILLE, NJ - On Thursday, Oct. 16, Montville Township School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried communicated the following message to parents and guardians concerning recent health issues:
The U.S. Department of Education and The National Public Engagement Team asked school superintendents around the country to share pertinent information with parents, teachers and staff regarding several health issues that have recently been in the news.
I would like to take this opportunity to assure the school community that Montville administrators, nurses, and the members of the custodial staff are regularly apprised, through updates from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), and area health departments, regarding the status of all national health issues. October is traditionally the start of flu season. Therefore, each school has already initiated increased vigilance and frequency with regard to the cleaning and sterilizing of surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, water fountains, restrooms, floors, chairs and other areas. These efforts are also recommended by the CDC as deterrents for enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) and Ebola.
Additionally, students are reminded to wash hands frequently, avoid touching eyes nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and to use good respiratory hygiene when coughing or sneezing.
Below is information from the e-mail I received from U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the U. S. Department of Education. It includes many links to websites for additional information regarding EV-D68, Ebola, the flu, and other health issues related to the stress of viruses:
As you are likely aware, the United States has been experiencing a nationwide outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) associated with severe respiratory illness that has been especially harmful to children. At the same time, you and your communities may also have questions about the Ebola virus. To address both public health concerns, the U.S. Department of Education and our federal health partners have a number of informational resources to share with you.
Almost all of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-confirmed cases this year of EV-D68 infection have been among children. Many of the children had asthma or a history of wheezing. Many parents continue to be worried about the outbreak and want information about what they can do to prevent illness and protect themselves and their families. The CDC has developed information and resources for parents about EV-D68. Please help us to address parents’ questions and concerns and make them aware that these resources are available.
Below are CDC resources about EV-D68 developed for parents:
- Web Feature, “What Parents Need to Know About Enterovirus D68”
- Drop-in newsletter article (matte article), “Parents: Learn the Facts about Enterovirus D68”
- Fact sheet for parents, “What Parents Need to Know about Enterovirus D68”
- General questions and answers for the public
- Infographic: Keep Your Child from Getting and Spreading Enterovirus D68
Yesterday, the CDC issued a press release sharing news about a new lab test developed by CDC for EV-D68 which will allow more rapid testing of specimens. Because of this new test, confirmed cases of EV-D68 will appear to rise rapidly over the next 7-10 days as specimen testing accelerates. However, changes in case counts won’t represent a real-time influx of new cases.
Remember too, as enterovirus season is expected to taper off, flu activity usually begins to increase in October. While there is not a vaccine to prevent illness from enterovirus, the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Many resources for parents and others can be found on the CDC flu web site. CDC recommends that ALL children 6 months old or older get a flu vaccine.
Finally, we know your communities may also have questions about what schools can do to keep students and adults safe from the Ebola virus. The President has made control of Ebola a top national security priority, and we as a nation have spent more than $100 million fighting this outbreak since the first cases were reported last March in Africa. Our national health system has the capacity and expertise to quickly detect and contain this disease and is working with states and school districts to ensure the safety of our students and school employees. As you likely know, the CDC is continually updating its information on Ebola, information that can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.
The CDC recommends the following to prevent the spread of viruses and germs:
- Wash hands often with hot soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after utilizing the bathroom or when coming in contact with feces.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Use good respiratory hygiene; coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow and properly disposing of tissues. For more information about respiratory hygiene see the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/covercough.htm .
- Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when feeling sick and consult your health care provider.
- Since people with asthma are at higher risk for respiratory illnesses, they should take their medicine as directed by their health care provider.
- Stay up to date with immunizations, especially influenza. This can protect against other common infections and lessen the risk of having a more severe illness.
In the District students will frequently be reminded of the above recommendations. Additionally, fact sheets and other health information regarding EV-D68, Ebola and the flu will be posted under Latest News at montville.net and factual and official updates, reminders, and informational links will be shared on our social media sites: Montville Township Public Schools (Facebook) and @MontvilleTwpSch (Twitter).
Secretary Duncan’s entire e-mail, which includes many more links, will also be posted at montville.net.
Should further updates become necessary, we will keep you informed. Working together as a community is vital in keeping students, staff and families healthy. Thank you for keeping us informed, and for researching questions at the above links.