Friday, Feb. 28, 2020
Given the continuing public health concerns worldwide surrounding cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the school district feels it is important to share information about our efforts related to both prevention and preparedness.
First, as with all other matters related to public health, we will monitor this fluid situation and follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Schenectady County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.
Based on recent reports, COVID-19/coronavirus is not actively circulating in New York state at this time. If the district becomes aware that a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will notify staff and parents/guardians, as we generally do with communicable diseases in our buildings. If a student or staff member shows respiratory symptoms, we will follow our current practices for handling respiratory illnesses, subject to any additional guidance forthcoming.
The district has infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking steps, such as cleaning and disinfecting throughout its schools, to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.
There are a number of steps that students, staff and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus, according to the state Department of Health:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands\
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you or a family member begin showing symptoms of a respiratory disease and suspect it may be COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Before going to your healthcare provider’s office, inform them that a case of COVID-19 is suspected, and follow their advice.
Here are a couple additional notes about our awareness and preparedness efforts specifically related to this virus:
- Our school nurses will be going through some training specific to coronavirus with communicable disease experts in March.
- At this time, the Niskayuna High School exchange trip scheduled for April recess is still on. However, we will be monitoring this situation closely and will be prepared to make any decisions necessary if in the best interest of students and staff.
- Local health departments will contact schools if a suspected or known COVID-19 case emerges. The district is prepared to work with any affected families.
- How will we communicate information related to coronavirus if needed?
Given that this is a fluid and potentially rapidly developing situation, we will use this web page, which can be accessed from our Health Services page to share information and resources as the circumstances warrant.
Any time-sensitive, critical information will be shared via the district’s School Messenger notification system, which can send e-mails, text messages and phone calls.
Please know that, as always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness.