MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morris School District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast announced Tuesday that the district is continuing to address the Coronavirus with updated procedures and that "although the CDC considers the Coronavirus to be a serious public health concern, the immediate health risk to the general public is considered low at this time".
Pendergrast stated that "as of today, March 3, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Morris School District or in NJ".
The Morris School District is currently following all recommendations of the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) with regard to the district’s flu and virus prevention practices, he stated in a letter to parents and guardians. To keep health and safety of our district our foremost consideration, Pendergrast stated that the district will monitor attendance and any signs of respiratory illness.
Parents and guardians must now notify their school principal or school nurse immediately if their child or member of their immediate family/household has been to one of the Level 3 Countries identified by the CDC. Those countries identified as Level 3 include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
New procedures also include:
- The school must also be notified if a family member/household member becomes ill within 14 days upon returning home from any foreign country
- Students may be required to leave school until medical clearance is obtained or a quarantine period of up to 14 days in implemented if the district receives information from families travel to the Level 3 countries
Pendergrast acknowledged that it is important to remain vigilant, but it is important to "maintain a calm and stigma-free environment".
As he urged parents to check their child before school each morning for signs of respiratory illnesses, especially fever, persistent cough or shortness of breath, Pendergrast noted that there are everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respirator diseases, which are shared below:
- Keep children home when they are sick, especially if they present with fever (above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37.7 C). Children should be fever-free (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
- Stay home when you yourself are sick.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your bent elbow or use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Pendergrast reiterated that the district has been preparing for the possibility of an extended closure and therefore reminds working parents to begin investigating childcare options.
"The decision to close schools in the event of an outbreak may be made without much advance notice", said Pendergrast. "The best way to help us keep our students and staff safe is by practicing good hygiene, staying home or keeping children home when sick, reporting recent travel as requested, and relying on accurate, evidence-based information".
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