For the past few weeks the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, has inundated news outlets and social media. As reports of cases in Massachusetts are confirmed, concerns among residents continue to rise.
On Monday, March 2, Scituate School Superintendent Ron Griffin sent out an email to Scituate Public School families.
“Scituate Public Schools continues to monitor the situation and keep abreast of all advisories and guidance from global and local experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH),” the message said. “As a proactive measure and with guidance from MDPH, the district has developed a response process in the unlikely event a person were to present to the school with a history and physical symptoms of COVID-19.”
The message also stated SPS is working with other local school districts to keep informed of any new notifications regarding the virus and coordinate efforts throughout the region accordingly.
COVID-19 was also brought up at the March 2 School Committee meeting.
Committee member Michael Hayes said that while he did not want to be an alarmist, he is more than a little concerned about some upcoming school trips, notably to Quebec and Disney World.
“It’s the school committee’s responsibility to make the decision on student trips,” Hayes said. “This is a real threat to us all. Hopefully, it will diminish over time, but I am deeply concerned about these trips.”
The Scituate School District is committed to ensuring the safety of its students, Griffin reiterated,
“This is something the school committee underscored as well and because they authorize all out of state travel, the committee has directed the district to continue monitoring guidance from WHO, CDC and MDPH regarding all travel notifications and report out to them with any changes,” he said.
At this time, there are no travel restrictions to any of the district’s out of state destinations so all out of state trips and programs are slated to continue as scheduled, Griffin said.
If there are new travel advisories or changes in conditions at any of the destinations, the committee may reconvene and reevaluate each on an individual basis with a focus on student and staff safety first.
While the risk of COVID-19 is low in Massachusetts, the risk of influenza remains very high, Griffin said.
“We want to emphasize that many of the common sense precautions that help prevent colds and influenza also help protect against other respiratory viruses, like COVID-19. The MDPH recommends that students, staff, and volunteers wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if unable to wash, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover your coughs or sneezes; and stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.”
Griffin wanted to recognize the “outstanding effort and dedication” of the entire Scituate public schools' nursing staff.
“Scituate Public Schools is especially fortunate to have such an outstanding Nurse Leader this year in Ms. Kelli Roche,” he said. “Ms. Roche works tirelessly to keep the district informed with the latest health recommendations from experts both locally and nationally as we continue to monitor this situation.”
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth