Outbreaks of novel virus infections, such as the Coronavirus COVID-19, among people are always of public health concern. The risk to the general public from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people; the severity of the resulting illness; and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness). This disease has caused severe illness, including illness resulting in death. It is concerning, especially since it has also shown sustained person-to-person spread in several places.
Current Risk Assessment:
- For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in the United States.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, but our school district is not one of those communities at this time.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.
Currently a vaccine or drug is not available for COVID-19. Community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing, and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Individuals can practice everyday prevention measures like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has developed guidance, which is attached, to help in the risk assessment and management of potential exposures to COVID-19 in our communities.
Our School District must be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in our community and the possibility of school closures for an extended time. Each of us must be prepared and take measures to reduce this spread.
Decisions about the implementation of community measures will be made by local and state officials, in consultation with federal officials as appropriate, and based on the scope of the outbreak and the severity of illness. Implementation will require extensive community engagement, with ongoing and transparent public health communications. Decisions about the implementation of school closings, E-Learning opportunities, testing updates, and extending the school calendar; are all in the realm of possibilities if faced with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Our communities and school district are prepared with no need to panic. We are ready for whatever comes our way and rest assured we will do everything possible to protect our students, our employees, and our stakeholders.