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Superintendent's Update on COVID-19
*March 11, 2020 Update - On March 6, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota in Ramsey County. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has announced more presumptive positive cases in the state since that time. We are monitoring the situation closely and watching for any update in guidance from MDH, local health agencies, or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At this time, the guidance and protocols have not changed and Westonka Public Schools will continue to operate school normally.
Borg Report March 5, 2020
Dear Westonka Families,
Westonka Public Schools District Nurse Kelly Mattson has recently shared health updates with families and staff on the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. I want to follow up on those updates with more information about our district’s plans and procedures that address this evolving public health situation.
As of today, no confirmed cases have been reported in Minnesota, but we are actively preparing for the possibility of COVID-19 appearing in the Westonka community. Our school district has prepared for disease outbreaks in the past, and administrators are in the process of updating our response plans to reflect current best practices. Westonka officials continue to collaborate, share information and review plans with local health officials on COVID-19. We have established regular communication with the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health on this topic.
Health officials do not recommend any changes to Westonka’s daily school operations or school-sponsored events at this time. Their message is clear and consistent: The precautions we take during every cold and flu season remain our best practices. The best ways to prevent and stop the spread of illness are to stay home when sick, cover your cough, and practice good hand hygiene.
Kelly Mattson shared the following tips with families and staff last month:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick. Parents, please follow the School Guidelines for Keeping Young Children Home Due to Illness.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Or if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your arm, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The hand washing procedures we teach in school remain the best way to prevent the spread of any illness. Our students are given time to wash their hands throughout the school day. We are working to make it even more convenient to practice good hygiene by making sure tissues and hand sanitizer are readily available in every classroom and in lunch lines. We’re also looking at ways to provide more support to our custodial staff to ensure we have clean and healthy learning/working environments.
People who are traveling should review the Centers for Disease Control’s travel advisories, which are updated regularly. It’s important to note that the determination of whether or not someone should return to school/work following travel is made by public health officials, not school officials. The CDC is currently advising that people returning from countries with Level 3 travel advisories (Avoid Nonessential Travel—Widespread Community Transmission) stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States. As of today, Level 3 warnings have been issued for China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the CDC’s travel guidelines change frequently. Please refer to the CDC website any time you travel, and remember the guiding principle: stay home when you’re sick.
It is our goal to continue to operate school normally unless the Minnesota Department of Health advises us against doing so. There are several steps that we can take to minimize the spread of illness before we would need to close school. However, should the need arise in the future, Westonka has procedures in place that would allow us to offer education online for a period of time.
We will continue to update you as new information emerges. If you have questions about Westonka’s process and procedures, please contact me. If you have specific health-related questions or concerns, please contact District Nurse Kelly Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (952) 491-8104. Thank you for partnering with us to keep our schools and community healthy.
Kevin Borg, Superintendent