WEST ORANGE, NJ — In response to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) warning earlier this week that American schools and communities should begin preparing for the possibility of a spread of Coronavirus within the United States, West Orange Superintendent of Schools Dr. J. Scott Cascone issued a statement to parents, students, caregivers and district personnel in order to “alleviate concerns and reinforce that proactive measures will be taken to maintain the health and safety of our school community.”

Cascone had also previously provided a document from the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) that included precautions for anyone who has traveled to China recently, as well as preventative measures for school districts. Due to the increased number of cases in other countries as well as the United States, Cascone said he felt that the district should provide further health and safety information.

The district shared facts about the Coronavirus provided by district physician Dr. Michael Kelly as well as preventative actions and proactive measures that students, students and families can take.

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  • According to Kelly, there are approximately 60 cases in the United States under isolation, and there is a 2-percent global mortality rate resulting from the virus. The incubation period is believed to be up to two weeks.
  • He also noted that there is some evidence that the disease can be transmitted by an asymptomatic but infected individual. Individuals entering the United States from high risk areas are being monitored at point of entry.
  • “Treatment at this time is largely supportive,” said Kelly. “Trials are underway with an antiviral drug, but the effectiveness of the drug is unknown at this time. A vaccine is in the process of being developed.”

Preventative Actions for Staff, Students, and Families:

  • Get a flu shot - it’s not too late.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Individuals with a fever should not attend school and they should remain home until they have been fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue directly in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Proactive Measures and Communication at West Orange Schools:

According to Cascone, each school in West Orange will identify a specific location for students who are demonstrating flu-like symptoms. He said this will be “a safe area away from other students until the student is picked up by a parent/guardian.”

The student will be given a facemask during this time to protect the spread of potential germs. Parents/guardians will be expected to pick-up their child within one hour of being contacted, Cascone said.

Health offices in all schools will be provided with facemasks, gloves and hand sanitizers that are 99-percent effective against common disease-causing organisms.

According to Cascone, the district will also continue to maintain enhanced daily cleaning and sanitizing of all schools.

“The Department of Health and the West Orange Public Schools highly recommends that all families with a child who within the past two weeks has traveled to an area of the world highly impacted by the Coronavirus to please contact their child’s Principal and/or School Nurse prior to sending the child back to school,” said Cascone. “The district will work with the families to determine the appropriate timeline for reentry to school.”

He concluded that the district will maintain ongoing communication with the health department for guidance and will continue to convey any additional information regarding these issues and any potential school closures.