DANVERS — Superintendent Heidi Riccio and School Nurses Nicole Mulloy and Marnie Ryan wish to provide students, parents, and guardians with information on the 2019 new coronavirus (COVID-19) as federal health officials continue to monitor the spread of the virus internationally.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) contracting the flu is far more likely than COVID-19. The DPH announced the state’s first, and currently only, case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Feb. 1. The man who contracted the virus was returning from Wuhan, China and sought medical care shortly after his arrival in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Wednesday that a new patient in California has contracted COVID-19, however, and may be the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure. The DPH reports that symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia in severe cases.
“We understand that, especially as new information about the spread of COVID-19 is released every day, students, parents, and guardians are looking for information about the virus and are concerned,” Superintendent Riccio said. “The risk of contracting the virus is low in our area, however, and the district is conducting comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting efforts to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, as we do every year during flu season.”
While students were on break last week, Essex Tech performed a deep cleaning consisting of dusting and sanitizing all horizontal and vertical surfaces including lockers, door handles, and plumbing fixtures; scrubbing and sanitizing floors; disinfecting all desks and chairs; and using an electronic sanitizing system on all surfaces. Director of Facilities Joseph St. Pierre also increased the fresh air makeup in the school’s buildings, and the school has been wiping down surfaces that are regularly used. Essex Tech has also provided disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer for every classroom and office area at the school, with recommendations to clean often.
Parents and guardians are reminded that, in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as respiratory viruses and gastrointestinal illnesses, students need to be free from fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours before returning to school if they have been sick.
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, Essex Tech wishes to provide students and their families with recommended actions from the DPH:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze