While there has not been an outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, and, we do not want to create any unnecessary fear, as you know, being informed and prepared is critical.
Hence, for your reference, below you will find a summary of information, as well as attached supporting documents from the PA Department of Health regarding the coronavirus. Also, as noted in the information provided, we should remind students and staff members to practice all preventative measures used during flu season, including handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding sharing cups or utensils. And, if sick, it is important that students or staff members remain home.
Please note that we will continue to monitor the situation and disseminate any additional or new information learned related to the coronavirus in the coming days and weeks. In the interim, please contact me if you have any questions or need any assistance.
Thank you for your continued commitment and extra efforts as it relates to the health and well-being of our Southmoreland School District students and staff members!
PA Department of Health:
- Coronavirus Information for K-12 Schools (Attachment 1)
- Coronavirus Overview (Attachment 2)
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats and bats.
The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms of the COVID-19 can include:
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
How can the coronavirus spread?
Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold:
- Through the air by coughing or sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it;
- Occasionally, fecal contamination.
How can I help protect myself?
- Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
- Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
Should I wear a mask or respirator in public?
The CDC does not recommend wearing masks or respirators outside of workplaces settings (in the community). A respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face or head and covers at least the nose and mouth. Most often, spread of respiratory viruses from person-to-person happens among close contacts (within 6 feet). It is important that these devices are readily available to health care workers and others who need them.
BCIU Website Resources
Our colleague intermediate unit, Bucks County has created a webpage that compiles resources specific to the Flu and Coronavirus.
You can access it here: https://go.bucksiu.org/coronavirus
The page contains a growing collection of news articles, health agency resources, and school system templates related to the Flu and Coronavirus. It is updated regularly with new resources and links.
This page is by no means exhaustive and in no way serves as an endorsement for specific resources. Instead, it serves as a collection point for school leaders seeking resources and exemplars.
Department of Health: Wolf administration prepares for spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Text of Feb. 26 press release.
Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today outlined the Wolf Administration’s steps to prepare for community spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, as well as what Pennsylvanians can do now. To date, no one in Pennsylvania has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Since the start of this outbreak, we’ve taken a proactive approach to prepare and carefully monitor potential cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Levine said. “As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised today, we need to be prepared for community spread of COVID-19. We are working to make sure our health systems, first responders and county and municipal health departments have the resources they need to respond.”
As of February 25, there are more than 80,000 cases worldwide, including more than 2,700 deaths. There are 57 cases and no deaths to date in the United States. The CDC expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus. CDC also said due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to be prepared.
“We know through our work with CDC in planning for disease outbreaks that it is best to prepare now.” Dr. Levine said. “The same family emergency plans and kits that we use to prepare for flu or norovirus, and even snowstorms and floods, are important now. Pennsylvanians should continue to help stop the spread of viruses by washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and staying home if you are sick.”
To date, the Wolf Administration has:
- Activated the Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination;
• Maintained communication and outreach with federal, state and local partners;
• Provided symptom monitoring for residents returning to Pennsylvania from China;
• Provided information to health care professionals, businesses and educational settings; and
• Reviewed and adapted current pandemic flu plans for COVID-19.
“As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website, health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health, as well as the CDC’s website and social media channels.”
Symptoms of the COVID-19 in people who have been exposed can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Influenza is an acute, highly contagious respiratory disease. It is characterized by sudden onset of fever, body aches, sore throat, headache, and cough, and, in children, can also cause diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.
- Staff and students (especially those with medical conditions and anyone else who wants to lower their risk of getting the flu) should get the flu vaccine. Remember, it is never too late in the flu season to be vaccinated. Antibody production usually takes about two weeks after vaccination.
- Any employee, student, teacher, staff, or volunteer suspected of having the flu should not attend school.
- Wash hands several times a day using soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds (generally the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC's). Dry hands with paper towels or automatic hand dryers, if possible. In school, allow regular breaks for the students and teachers to wash hands. Young children should be instructed and assisted to ensure proper hand washing. Restrooms should be checked regularly to ensure that soap and paper towels are always available.
- The flu can be spread from coughs or sneezes. Make sure tissues are available in all classrooms. Students and staff should cover their mouths when coughing and use a tissue when sneezing or blowing their noses. Tissues should be thrown away immediately following proper hand washing (alcohol hand gels may be used in the classrooms to minimize disruption).
- Closure of individual schools in the event of an outbreak has not proven to be an effective way of stopping the flu, but that decision should be made by the appropriate school officials based on other considerations.
- Schools should be extra-vigilant that ill students be excluded from sports activities, choir, or any activities that may involve close contact, since transmission of the flu may be easier in these situations. All students and staff should avoid sharing of saliva, i.e., sharing glasses, water bottles, other drinks, spoons/forks, or kissing, etc.
- Flu viruses can live on inanimate objects, so schools are encouraged to take the following measures:
- School buses, because of the enclosed space, may allow for easy spread of the flu. Tissues should be available on the buses, and students should be encouraged to cover nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. Disinfect commonly handled interior surfaces (i.e., door handles, hand rails, etc.) between loads of students, if possible.
- In the school, clean commonly used surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, eating surfaces, desks, etc., frequently with disinfectant. (Bleach solutions or commercial disinfectants are appropriate.)
BED BUGS FACT SHEET
Overview: Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty red-colored oval bodies. When they feed, their bodies swell and become brighter red. About the size of an apple seed, bed bugs are big enough to be easily seen but often hide in cracks in furniture, floors or walls. They can travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to stay within 8 feet of where people sleep. They can live for several months without food or water. Bed bugs are found around the world, in both developing and developed countries. Bed bugs have been found in apartments, shelters, rooming houses, buses, trains, dorm rooms, schools, offices, cruise ships and hotels, including five-star hotels and resorts. Their presence is not associated with cleanliness or the lack of cleanliness.
Signs and Symptoms: Most bed bug bites are initially painless, but turn into large, itchy skin welts after one to several days. Bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Bed bug infestations are usually identified by the tell-tale bite marks on a person’s body. However, the following signs will also help identify an infestation:
• Bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting;
• Bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets;
• Rusty-colored blood spots due to the blood-filled fecal material they excrete on the mattress or other furniture; and
• A sweet musty odor.
Risk Factors: Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infested area. Those who travel frequently and share living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept have a higher risk of encountering bed bugs. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. They travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infesting areas as they travel.
Complications: Although bed bugs are a nuisance, they are not known to spread disease, and bed bug bites are not dangerous. However, some people may have an allergic reaction that requires medical attention. Other people may have excessive scratching that leads to a secondary skin infection. Some may develop anxiety and/or insomnia.
Treatments: The best treatment for a bite is to avoid scratching the area and to apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. 2 Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or a professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs.
Prevention: The best way to prevent bed bugs is to avoid spending time in and bringing belongings into an infested area. When staying in a new place, check for signs of an infestation immediately upon entry and do not bring belongings in until you are confident the area is free of bed bugs.
Additional Information Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html
Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs This fact sheet provides general information. Please contact your physician for specific clinical information.
The Pa DOH in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does NOT recommend schools have a no-nit policy or perform school wide head lice checks.
Department of Health regulations (28 PA Code, Chapter 27 Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases, Section 27.71Opens In A New Window) requires that students be excluded if suspected of having live lice.
These regulations do not specify that the student is to be excluded immediately.
It is recommended that students with live lice be sent home at the end of the day and contact the parents and provide instruction to treat the student, any affected family members and the home environment. They are to be readmitted to school immediately following the first treatment. It is also recommended that schools have a policy and procedure in place to address head lice.