Latest District Update on Coronavirus (3/6/20)

Latest District Update on Coronavirus (3/6/20)
Posted on 03/06/2020
As you know, the entire world is grappling with novel (new) Coronavirus (Covid-19) spread and wondering what will occur next. I write to you to let you know how the Natick Schools are keeping abreast of developments from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).
We are poised to respond to developments in the region and we write to let you know of our current practices in prevention. The Natick Schools have a pandemic protocol as part of its emergency response procedures. We have met as a leadership team to review this protocol and plan for a unified and systematic response to this possible situation.
Please refer to the CDC and MA DPH web sites for the most accurate and up to date information. Additional fact sheets in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic, and Russian from MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library for Health are available as well: medlineplus.gov/languages/coronavirusinfections.html

District-sponsored International Trips:
We have canceled all international travel slated for the remainder of this school year and we have canceled all international visitors/exchanges. Domestic travel may be impacted in future weeks.  
While we have no current directives from the MA Education Commissioner, however we did meet to discuss possible alternative learning plans, should the need arise. It's important to note that we are not yet at the place where we need to execute those plans. 

Reducing the Spread of Germs:
This is also a good time to remember that the simplest and most effective way to reduce transmission of this (and any other) virus is to practice good hand washing, use proper cough etiquette, and to stay home when ill. Please know that the novel COVID-19 risk in MA remains low, while the risk of seasonal flu continues to remain high.  
Here are the most effective ways to combat illness:
  • The CDC still recommends getting a flu vaccine if you haven't already.  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, using the bathroom, before eating or preparing food.
  • If you cannot wash your hands, use alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or use your elbow .
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Send your child in with a refillable water bottle vs. allowing the child to use the communal water fountain (bubbler). All schools have filtered water bottle fillers.
  • Tell your child to wash hand after use of communal tools such as computer lab or classroom computers or sports equipment
Building principals have been directed to implement hand-washing protocols with students before snack and meals in age-appropriate ways. Hand sanitizing stations have been or will be added to cafeteria lines and in strategic locations; please keep in mind that these products are being installed now. Facilities and custodial staff are still in flu cleaning protocol mode and are conscientiously cleaning the buildings, paying special attention to illness rates and cleaning and disinfecting all touch surfaces.

School Building Cleaning Protocol
Below are some details about our cleaning protocols for school buildings:
  • Daily: 
    All custodians have been instructed to perform daily extensive disinfecting with QT-Plus:
    • QT-Plus is a cleaner and disinfectant.
    • QT-Plus is effective against many pathogens, including noroviruses such as the COV-19 disease.
    • QT-Plus is applied to high touch surfaces (door handles, handrails, bathroom fixtures, etc.) throughout the day and in the evenings after school.
  • Periodically or As-needed:
    The Clorox 360 machine (which is an electrostatic sprayer) is being rotated throughout all the schools to disinfect them thoroughly:
    • Clorox product is effective against many pathogens, including noroviruses such as the COV-19 disease and provides disinfectant coverage over a wider surface area in a smaller amount of time than utilization of spray bottles. The electrifying of the chemical product causes the chemical to attach and adhere around the surface with three times the force of gravity.
  • Custodians are working with the school staff to determine when there is a spike in absences due to illnesses (Dr. Nolin is monitoring district absence rates daily).   When notified, custodians do a more thorough cleaning of the area using the QT-Plus disinfectant.
    • Clorox 360 machine is brought to the school to do a thorough treatment. Hand sanitizer stations will be added to areas outside of restrooms and other strategically identified common areas, including in the lunchroom and at the lunch lines.
  • Maintenance staff is also providing support:
    • The HVAC filters have been upgraded to capture more particles in the air
    • The HVAC equipment has been adjusted to increase fresh airflow from 10% to 20%. 
    • The HVAC equipment has been adjusted to change the occupancy times in the buildings to an earlier time to increase the airflow in the buildings.

    If you would like to donate Lysol wipes for teacher use, you may, but students will not be allowed to touch these products nor will they be used when children are in proximity. We do not expose our students to cleaning solutions or products; facilities are cleaned after school hours.

    What You Can Do
    The best advice at this time is to stay calm and wash your hands! The majority of COVID-19 cases are mild with symptoms similar to the common cold. Should you or your family members begin to feel unwell, call your primary care provider right away.
    If you have traveled to (or through) China, Italy, South Korea or Japan, you may be subject to quarantine and should contact the Natick Board of Health Immediately. They will advise you of the next steps.
    If you believe you have been exposed to the virus through some means, please contact the Natick Board of Health at 508-647-6460.

    Our Core Values: Cultural Sensitivity Finally a word of reminder about our core values and mission as a school system: Don't stigmatize others.
    It is important that we reject stigmatizing falsehoods disparaging and negatively impacting the Asian-American community in the United States and abroad. According to the CDC, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease like COVID-19 with a specific population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region has the disease and members of particular groups are at no greater risk of contracting it. 
    Be good to each other, stay healthy in mind, body, and community. Your children and families are our greatest concern.
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