State and local school officials say they are working with health officials and emergency management to monitor coronavirus and reassured families that cleaning and hygiene measures are already in place due to the cold and flu season.
As the flu season winds down amid the coronavirus scare, school officials also urge parents to keep students home from school if any illness with fever develops.
In a letter to parents, Kelly L. Griffith, Talbot County’s school superintendent, noted the school system “has many protocols in place due to the annual cold and flu season, such as preparation for additional cleaning of buildings and stressing the importance of good hygiene practices.
“We monitor student illness reports, trends and absenteeism and are in daily contact with the Talbot County Health Department,” Griffith wrote.
The superintendent said administrators “will attend any and all Emergency Management briefings, and will work with the Talbot County Health Department and other partners to review, update and implement existing emergency operations plans if needed.”
Karen Couch, Kent County’s school superintendent, in a letter to parents noted there were no coronavirus cases in Kent County and, at the time of her letter, none in Maryland.
Three cases were confirmed Thursday in Montgomery County and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Thursday night.
“This is a rapidly changing situation, and one which we are closely monitoring,” Couch wrote.
“The CDC reports that people diagnosed with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus reported symptoms in as few as two days and as many as fourteen days after exposure to the virus,” she wrote. “Symptoms include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia.
Within Kent’s schools, sanitation efforts have been intensified, with an increased focus on doorknobs and handles, light switches, desktops, faucets and similar surfaces using the school’s antimicrobial disinfectant, Couch wrote. Bus drivers have been given disinfecting wipes as well.
The superintendent said the school system was continuing to work closely with the county’s health and emergency services departments, the state health department and the CDC to monitor the situation.
Patty Saelens, Caroline County’s school superintendent, said school officials “have been following developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are working closely, as we do for all health-related issues, with proven and trustworthy sources: our local health department, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Based on the current information, health officials are recommending local communities and schools take the same steps to protect against coronavirus that we take to prevent the spread of other diseases, like colds or the flu,” Saelens wrote to parents. “We continue to encourage good hygiene practices in school, and will follow appropriate assessment and monitoring procedures for students and staff who report feeling ill.
“Finally, as important as student attendance is, please keep your child at home if symptoms of any illness with fever develop,” she wrote. “Thank you for entrusting the care of your child to us. We take our responsibility very seriously, and assure you that we will continue to work with health care officials to stay informed on this issue.”
Griffith also shared a message from Dr. Karen B. Salmon, the state school superintendent.
“Multiple state agencies are collaborating on and are committed to the health and safety of students and staff in the school setting. We are working collaboratively with the Governor’s Office, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and all other relevant State agencies on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The MSDE will remain vigilant in providing all information regarding the virus as it pertains to the health and safety of students and staff in our schools.”