Where We Stand Today With the Coronavirus

Where We Stand Today With the Coronavirus
Posted on 03/09/2020

Good evening!

While it seems the news about the coronavirus is changing by the minute, I wanted to reach out to you first thing this week to update you on what I know and what we are doing.

We are incredibly sensitive to the heightened anxiety and concern that is present in our families, the wider community, and nation at this time regarding the possible spread of COVID-19, the medical term for coronavirus. Last Friday, several Quakertown Community School District officials attended a regional meeting hosted by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. At the meeting they looked at myriad issues and “what if’s” regarding keeping our community as safe as possible. Let there be no doubt that we remain committed to providing you with information you need to help in planning, decision-making, and any preparation for the potential impact of this illness.

This morning, I participated in a very lengthy and detailed conference call with the other 12 Bucks County superintendents, Dr. Mark Hoffman, Executive Director of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Dr. David Damsker, Director of the Bucks County Health Department, and Scott Forster, Director of Bucks County Emergency Management Services. A couple of key points before I review with you the details of the call. First, ALL Bucks County school districts have canceled overseas travel. I notified the high school of that late this morning. This impacts the Spanish trip to Costa Rica next month. Spanish teacher Bethany Fuller is working to reschedule the trip for later this summer. Graduating seniors will be allowed to remain on the summer Costa Rica trip. Second, local, inner-state, and cross country trips scheduled for this spring, eg. choir trip to San Diego, will remain scheduled at this time. However, if conditions change at either end - here or at a trip’s destination, the trip may be canceled. Third, following all self-protection measures from the virus is key! “Deep cleaning” of all high touchpoints in schools in week two for us and we will continue with these extra sanitizing procedures for as long as necessary. This is what else we learned and were reminded of:

Status of Current Cases of Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

  • To date, there are seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.
  • Counties impacted to-date include one individual from Delaware County, five individuals from Montgomery County, and one individual from Wayne County.
  • There are no diagnosed cases in Bucks County.
  • All seven individuals who have been diagnosed in Pennsylvania, were exposed to the virus by direct contact with a diagnosed individual residing outside of the country or outside of the Commonwealth.
  • There is no community spread of the virus reported in Bucks County at this time.
  • Children are not believed to be at serious risk for the illness, and to-date not a single individual worldwide, under the age of 15, has died from the virus.
  • Those who have the highest risk are individuals with a weakened immune system; pregnant women; and/or those age 60 and over.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the common flu virus and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 or more days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from individuals with no symptoms to those becoming severely ill and dying.

How the Virus is Spread

The virus is 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

How to Protect You and Your Family

The single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times throughout the day.

Other ways to help prevent the spread of the illness include:

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not with your hands!
  • Use a 60 percent or higher 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 feel better. Sick students and/or staff should not return to school until they are fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without medication. 

Actions Quakertown Is Taking

Early this morning, I met with my team to discuss what we learned from the various group discussions last Friday at the BCIU. We also reviewed some of the feedback from our schools on our approach to conduct “deep cleaning.” Our custodial and maintenance staff will make a few changes to ensure that regular cleaning of our schools does not fall behind. Additionally, we ordered a few 55 gallon drums of hand sanitizer liquid, which is expected to arrive tomorrow. We are also closely monitoring student and adult attendance in school more than usual. With more than 75 percent of our teaching workforce living outside of Quakertown, we need to follow what is going on throughout the region.

Naturally, we are hopeful that the coronavirus does not cause a health emergency in our area. However, if it does, I want to assure you that Quakertown is taking all precautions and is preparing to take any necessary actions in conjunction with recommendations from our local and state authorities. I will continue to update you of any changes. In the meantime, please review healthy preventative habits and measures with your family.

Thank you for your help in keeping our schools and community safe.

Have a good night!

Bill Harner
Superintendent
Email: wharner@qcsd.org
Twitter: @billharner

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.