SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 District superintendent Dr. Joan Mast issued a letter to parents on Tuesday afternoon with information on how to avoid the flu and Coronavirus, which has killed at least 426 people and infected more than 20,000 globally as it continues to spread beyond China, according to CNN. However, the cable news station also reports that there has only been one confirmed case of Wuhan Coronavirus in the U.S. (a man in his 30s, who has been discharged from a hospital in Everett, Washington). 

"Our intention is to reinforce good habits to avoid high absenteeism as it relates to influenza," Dr. Mast said in an interview with TAPintoSPF. "Also, because the Coronavirus it a frequent topic on the news, we wanted to assure the community that we are on high alert. The NJDOE shared information with the district that we wanted to pass on to our parents." 

Dr. Mast's letter lists preventative measures to take to reduce the spread of respiratory illness:

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• Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, not your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Keep your child home if they have a fever or are presenting "flu-like" symptoms. Keep them home until they have not had a temperature greater than 100 degrees for at least 24 hours after stopping the use of fever reducing medications such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Advil/Motrin (Ibuprofen). 

Flu Information and Guidelines: The flu is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. The symptoms of the flu are as follows:

• A fever, usually in the range of 101-102 but may go as high as 106
• Sore throat
• Cough
• Muscle Aches
• General fatigue and weakness
• Nasal congestion and sneezing
• Headache
• Intestinal symptoms are usually not associated with the flu, but may be present.

Dr. Mast asks parents: "When calling your child's school attendance line, please be sure to state if your child has been diagnosed by the doctor with the flu."

The letter also says that the district "will continue to monitor the CDC and local public health departments as more information becomes available, we will update you as needed."

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