Posted in Metropolitan Education District, COVID19

COVID-19 UPDATE - MARCH 12,2020

March 12, 2020 by Alyssa Lynch 0 comments
I want to let you know, I have been participating in daily conference calls on behalf of MetroED so that we can share with you accurate information. We are currently in a "health crisis." We only take direction from Santa Clara County Office of Education and Santa Clara County Health Department. In Santa Clara County, there are 31 school districts. Any information I list in this newletter has been agreed upon by all 31 school districts. Please do remember, things change minute to minute and day to day. All information in this newsletter is through April 10, 2020. The statement below is from our Health Department and Santa Clara County Office of Educaiton. Links below have been updated.
 
The safety and wellness of our students, parents, teachers and staff are our highest priority. While the Public Health Department is not currently recommending the closure of schools given the significant societal harms it would cause, we are taking every precaution necessary to prevent the spread of the disease in our community and keep our classrooms open. We fully understand the concerns of parents wanting to know whether their child was in contact with a close contact of a confirmed case. The Public Health Department investigates cases and follows up with people that were close contacts in order to quarantine them. However, people that were in contact with close contacts of confirmed cases are not at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. Regardless of where you or family has been, the virus is in our community and everyone should be practicing social distancing and closely monitoring their health. Schools will continue to notify families when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 with a student or staff member and work with the Public Health Department and the Office of Education to determine the best course of action based on the specific circumstance.
 
Topic: School Closures:
The County Public Health Department currently is not recommending closing schools at this time. If a staff member or student in a specific school is confirmed to have COVID-19, the Public Health Department will consider, based on the specific facts of each situation, whether closure of that school is warranted . Among other reasons, the County is not recommending school closures at this time because children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. Closing schools also causes significant community disruption. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities .
 
Some children have underlying health conditions, such as severely weakened immune systems, that put them at higher risk. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home from school.
 
Topic: Event Cancellations:
There are four considerations for cancelling events:
  • size of gathering
  • the mix of individuals
  • social distance available -arms-length distance from each other
  • duraton of event
 
Topic: Field-trips: 
All field-trips, non-instructional events should be cancelled,
 
Topic: Travel:
  • No travel outside of Santa Clara County for staff and students.
  • All Athletic leagues are being cancelled.
 
Message for Parents:
  • We have the language that should be used when speaking or communicating with parents. Please do not guess on answers, we all need to be saying the same thing. We can provide the language if needed.
 
Attendance:
  • All students are unexcused even if it concerns COVID-19, however truency will not be enforced.
  • We are supplying our student and employee attendance to SCCOE daily.
 
Guests on campus:
  • Prohibited, no volunteers, no guest speakers.
 
Regarding e-learning, blended learning or online learning:
  • We are not prepared to enter any of the above as an option at this time.
  • The County Office will not and does not support moving to this when schools have not planned for it. It can have a negative impact on districts that are not ready or tried and tested.
 
Plan for School Closure:
  • Prepare lesson plans for school closure for 5-10 days.
  • Districts are providing packets of information to students.
  • School closure will take place only if there is a confirmed case and the Health Department or Governor make the recommendation.
  • Schools are safe, children not in school should be at home.
 
Spring Break/Instructional school year:
  • There are discussions on changing the Spring break to mitigate transmittal of COVID-19. The goal is to slow the disease.
 
Schools are responsible for taking the following steps:
  • Teachers and staff with any fever and/or respiratory symptoms should not come to work. Teachers and staff should screen themselves (i.e., check themselves for subjective fever and/or respiratory symptoms such as cough) for symptoms each morning before interacting with students .
  • Ensure sick leave policies that allow teachers and staff to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Implement staggered recess times to limit the number of students who are together; and, if possible, group recess by classrooms to reduce opportunities for mixing.
  • Consider alternatives to group programming within the school including any large or communal activities such as assemblies and large-scale sporting events. Alternate approaches which limit close contact may include conducting assemblies via webcasts or intercom announcement and limiting the number of spectators who can attend sporting events .
  • Limit visitors to the school by not allowing those with symptoms of fever and/or respiratory infection.
 
STAY HOME IF SICK
All students and staff should stay home if they feel sick. Make sure that your school's sick leave/attendance policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that students/staff are aware of these policies . Don't require sick students or staff to have doctors' notes as healthcare offices may be very busy and unable to provide that documentation right away.
 
REGULAR CLEANING
Employers are responsible for ensuring that frequently touched surfaces should be regularly cleaned . Doorknobs, tabletops, counters, phones, keyboards and fixtures should be disinfected several times throughout the day. Cleaning is especially important for classroom environments where desks are shared . Exposure is thought to mostly occur through respiratory droplets but surfaces can still transfer the virus from person to person.
 
ENHANCED HYGIENE
Everyone needs to follow increased hygiene measures that include:
  • Frequently wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used in a pinch if soap and water are not available
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations for each classroom setting and at entrances when possible
  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
 
STAY INFORMED
Information is changing frequently.
  • Public Health Website: http://sccphd.org/coronavirus 
  • Public Health Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sccpublichealth/ 
  • Public Health Instagram: @scc_publichealth
  • Public Health Twitter: @HealthySCC 
 
 
Public Health Statement Regarding COVID-19 and Airports: 
County Public Health also issued a statement last night regarding COVID-19 and Airports. The Public Health Department’s guidance for many days has been that employers should suspend non-essential employee travel and that persons at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid traveling on cruises and airplanes. Last night’s statement from Public Health can be found here: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/news/Pages/covid-19-airports.aspx 
 
211 Update:  
211 is now working to take calls from the community related to COVID-19 to provide updates and connect residents with appropriate resources.      
 
Updated Materials For Community Outreach:  
The County has updated documents to assist in getting the word out to the community related to the most recent directives and guidance from the County Public Health Department (see attached). These materials are tailored to individuals, businesses/workplaces, schools, and community-based organizations and are based on the Health Officer order and new guidance released on March 9th.  Please share this information widely with your distribution lists.  These materials can also be found on the Public Health website here: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/resources-public-info-outearch.aspx 
 
March 9th Guidance in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese:  
The recent guidance from the County Public Health Department is available at the following links for the respective languages: 
 
Sincerely,
Alyssa Lynch
Alyssa Lynch

This article was written by Alyssa Lynch, Superintendent at Metropolitan Education District, which operates Silicon Valley Career Technical Education and Silicon Valley Adult Education. She has been a critical voice for Career Technical Education for 25 years.