Dear Colleagues and Monticello Families:
I wanted to bring you up to date on the actions we are taking to reduce the risks of infection in the schools and respond to the coronavirus outbreak. We are all getting swamped with information from many sources – alerts on our phones, television news and special reports, social media. We are monitoring this evolving situation and receiving guidance from the NY Department of Health, the Sullivan County Department of Health, and the NYS Education Department. We also receive regular updates from Sullivan BOCES.
As of today, we are not aware of any residents in the county who have been exposed to the virus or tested positive. Consequently, all of our efforts are preventative in nature, and in many ways, follow protocols we already have in place.
Monitoring: The District is…
· Monitoring and seeking guidance from relevant agencies with regards to coronavirus.
· Following up with any residents or staff who we know have traveled to affected areas.
· Following up with any residents or staff who have concerns about the District’s response.
· Providing counseling services for children who are exhibiting anxious behavior.
· The District continues to follow our flu season protocols for cleaning, which includes enhanced cleaning of solid surfaces, common areas, bathrooms, and classrooms. There is daily disinfection of doorknobs, phones, light switches, and faucets. This enhanced cleaning will continue indefinitely.
· In addition, the District is disinfecting school buses daily, wiping down seats and handrails. We will begin to wipe down computers and iPads; the keyboards and outside cases will be wiped down at least once per day.
· School nurses have been meeting with students to review universal precautions, specifically how to wash their hands effectively. Teachers and staff have been instructed to encourage students to wash hands and practice good germ hygiene, especially before and after eating and after restroom use.
· Additional signage is being hung throughout our schools to remind students about proper germ hygiene and handwashing.
What you can do as families:
· Encourage your children to use good germ hygiene, wash their hands, and encourage them to remind their friends to do the same.
· Answer any questions your children ask honestly with age-appropriate language and reassure them that the adults are doing everything they can to make sure they are safe.
· Remind children to respect the privacy of their peers and their families and that using coronavirus as a subject of humor is not appropriate.
· Be calm in front of children and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when they ask questions that don’t have easy answers.
· Try to reduce the spread of rumors by getting information from reputable sources and checking with local or school officials before passing partial or inaccurate information along.
· Please keep children who are feeling sick at home and seek medical attention if they are experiencing any of the symptoms related to COVID 19 (novel coronavirus). These symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and aches and pains.
· Our schools have paused their attendance incentive programs – we don’t want sick children to feel like they will lose their chance to be rewarded for good attendance when it is wiser for them to stay home.
· At this time, the Departments of Health and Education are not recommending school closures. If there is a change, we will notify you using our usual channels – School Messenger, email and text.
· There is a recommendation to curtail school-sponsored international travel. Other field trips, whether out of state, New York City, or to local venues, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
· There is ongoing discussion about the use of preemptive school and large group activity cancelation in the future. Again, there is no recommendation for closing now, even though some relatively local districts have closed for one or two days for deep cleaning purposes. Scarsdale Public Schools have closed for eight days after a faculty member tested positive, and several private schools and colleges in the metropolitan area have also closed temporarily.
· As a reminder, we will be closed for a “snow day” give back day this coming Friday, March 13. Our custodial and maintenance crew will take advantage of the extra day to make sure that all our buildings and buses are disinfected.
We will keep you informed as circumstances change. If you have any questions, please feel free to call your school nurse or central office. Attached are links to reliable resources and information.
William Silver, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Links for information
The NYS Department of Health has established a coronavirus hotline that residents may call with questions: 1-888-364-3065. We encourage our residents to take advantage of these resources to learn more about the most recent developments concerning the COVID-19. You may also visit the NYS Department of Health’s Website at: https://health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/index.htm.
Families are also encouraged to follow the CDC’s information for travel, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
The Public Health Services of Sullivan County also has information available on their website: http://sullivanny.us/Departments/Publichealth
For more information, consider consulting these additional resources:
· Travel: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html
· COVID-19: What is Stigma and What Causes It? https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fstigma-faq.html
· Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Frequently Asked Questions – Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#prevention
· Prevention, Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
Please know that, as always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this, and other illness.