QCSD officials attend forum on coronavirus

Bucks County Intermediate Unit facilitates countywide event on coronavirus
Posted on 03/03/2020
Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, speaks about the coronavirus during a countywide forum at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.

By Gary Weckselblatt

Though there are no known or reported cases of coronavirus in Bucks County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Quakertown Community School District officials joined leaders of key organizations Tuesday morning to discuss information relating to the flu and coronavirus.

The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) facilitated the event, which included Quakertown Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards, Certified School Nurse Margie Regan and personnel from the Bucks County Health Department, Bucks County Emergency Services, all six Bucks County hospitals, all Bucks County School Districts, three Career and Technical Centers, Delaware Valley University, and the Bucks County Community College.

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, told more than 80 people in attendance to be calm, wash your hands, and if you get sick stay home; essentially the same instructions he’d give you for the flu.

“We’re taking this seriously but not panicking, and we’re trying to be optimistic about it,” he said. “It’s important we maintain our composure.”

There eventually will be coronavirus cases in Bucks County, he said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world,” he said.

The coronavirus is transmitted like the common flu virus and can be eliminated with good cleaning and personal hygiene practices. As we are currently in our high-flu season, the Quakertown Community School District already practices standard cleaning procedures each day, and the Bucks County Health Department offered assurances this morning that those cleaning procedures will successfully kill the virus on contact surfaces.

With media reports expressing a growing concern with the spreading of the coronavirus, QCSD has been proactive in attempts to clean high volume touchpoints. SSC Service Solutions, the district’s custodians, have been wiping down door handles, desks and handrails. Levy School Bus Company has been cleaning the tops of bus seats. And last week hand sanitizer was ordered for all schools.

“School districts can’t be expected to do a whole lot more than that,” Dr. Damsker said.

In addition, we encourage parents of young students to once again show them how to wash their hands thoroughly to help create an excellent lifelong habit.

Procedures are already in place for responding to reports of communicable illnesses, including the coronavirus, Dr. Damsker said. The Bucks County Health Department, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, issues guidance and direction to health care providers and schools when necessary during a potential outbreak situation.

QCSD works directly with these health agencies to keep our students, staff, and greater community safe. The Bucks County Health Department will notify QCSD of any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our region and will provide guidance and information for distribution to families.

More information about the coronavirus can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The CDC also offers helpful FAQs about the coronavirus. In addition, the PA Department of Health Coronavirus website is a good source of information. Some tips from the website to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as coronavirus, include:

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a 60 percent or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, electronic devices, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick to help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Bucks IU Executive Director, Dr. Mark Hoffman, stated “The Bucks IU will continue to facilitate conversations between the county officials, school districts, colleges, universities, and hospitals to keep the community informed about any further developments in this region and
any resulting actions that may be necessary.”

Information supplied by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit was included in this story.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.

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