(The following communication was provided by Newport SAU 43 Superintendent of Schools Brendan Minnihan.)
I wanted to send out an update to each of you regarding the Coronavirus (COVID 19) and ways we can protect ourselves and one another.
As background, the Governor, school superintendents, nurses, emergency management officials and others have been on weekly Coronavirus calls which happen each Monday. These calls provide all of us with the latest updates and any additional guidance and information.
So, if you see a change in what we are advising, it has probably come from one of those meetings. As well, the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE)
and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have been sending out periodic updates, specifically as the information relates to school settings.
What basic steps can each of us take to stop or slow down the spread of the virus?
All of the information we have received starts with making sure each of us washes our hands regularly. One article I recently read said that in order to wash your hands correctly, you should wash them with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (or about the amount of time it takes to sing the happy birthday song twice). You should also try to avoid touching your face which is quite difficult to do (as I sit here touching my face while writing this letter).
Make sure to clean high touch surfaces frequently. We have worked with our custodial staff in the schools to make sure that we are diligently cleaning all surfaces routinely.
Finally, make sure that if you feel sick, you stay home from school. During this time of heightened concern, please be extra cautious when deciding whether to send your child to school. All legitimate cases of illness will be considered excused absences. COVID 19 is a respiratory virus and symptoms normally involve fever, coughing, and possibly some difficulty with breathing.
What about trips and events?
The guidance we have received thus far says to proceed with out of state trips and larger gatherings (sporting events, robotics competitions, etc.) as long as it seems safe to do so. What that means is that the school district will work with the New Hampshire Department of Education and other agencies to verify that it is safe to
proceed with a particular trip to a particular state.
These decisions will be based on the actual circumstances for
a particular region or state. The NHDOE has requested that each school district provides them with a list of all upcoming out of state trips so they can advise us of any additional precautions or cancellations we may need to undertake.
What if the schools need to be closed due to Coronavirus concerns?
The school district is working closely with the NHDOE to develop methods to continue to provide educational opportunities to our students should a school closure be necessary. These approaches include the use of online learning via Google Classroom and/or the use of other instruction or lessons for students to complete while out
of the school building. Since we will still be providing instruction, we would not need to make up this time at the end of the school year.
Would breakfast and lunch still be available to eligible students if the school district were to be closed for a long period?
We believe that we would be able to provide meals to eligible students since we are still providing instruction. However, we are in contact with DHHS to ensure that is the case. Depending on the situation, we will develop logistics to distribute these meals to our eligible families.
Please be assured that we are doing all we can to ensure a healthy environment for our students to learn. If you have any questions or concerns, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call at 603-865-9500.