Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Lenox Public Schools

There is understandable concern in the Lenox Public Schools (LPS) community about the steps the district is taking to ensure the health and safety of students, employees, and their families as we face the threat of a local outbreak of the new coronavirus (referred to by public health officials as COVID-19).  I would like to address those concerns here, and describe how we mean to proceed as this situation unfolds.

As you may know, as of February 27, 2020 there has been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Bay State.  Hundreds more people in our state have been quarantined under medical supervision, but to date none have tested positive for the virus.  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has informed us that at this time the risk to our citizens from COVID-19 therefore remains low.   At the same time, the current risk for the spread of the influenza virus is high.  It is therefore important for each of us to note that Lenox residents, and those in this geographical region, are much more likely at this time to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19; and also that effective preventive procedures recommended by medical professionals under circumstances such as we are experiencing, be it COVD-19, Influenza B, or any comparable contagion, are available to all of us.  These are described in documents we received recently from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), which are attached to this message and also can be found on the LPS website, www.lenoxps.org

The importance of Individual and institutional use of preventative procedures cannot be overemphasized. These procedures include frequent handwashing, appropriate techniques to avoid contagion when sneezing or coughing, and other personal hygiene steps each of us can take throughout the day.  Institutional procedures include careful disinfectant cleaning by school custodial staff each day, the availability and recommended use of Clorox wipes and Lysol spray in each classroom and common area for use throughout the day, appropriate monitoring by health professionals of students when students manifest symptoms associated with a communicable disease, and other measures recommended by DPH.  The documents are attached to this message and also can be found on the

The potential spread of COVID-19 is a matter of concern across the country and internationally.  We are in frequent contact with local and state health agencies, most especially DPH, and we are staying abreast of the information issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

As far as specific steps to take in the event of a local outbreak of COVID-19, we will follow the directives and take the advice of these health care professionals.  We are most fortunate in the LPS to have two highly trained and well-informed school nurses who are this district’s point of contact with public health agencies and the LPS’s school physician.  They are working closely on a daily basis with our schools’ leadership teams to monitor students and staff health and to ensure that best practices for protecting the health of everyone in our schools are being followed.

In the longer term we are now examining what, were an extreme situation to occur, one in which schools would be closed by executive order for days or weeks, we would be able to do to enable students to remain engaged in learning during such a shutdown.  This is a multi-faceted problem, but one for which plans need to be in place.  We will keep the School Committee and the public abreast of what the steps are that we will take should an extreme situation of this sort arise.    

DPH Advisory COVID-19 02.26.20

DPH COVID-19 Schools Update 02.24.20

A great deal of information about COVID-19 and the steps being taken nationally and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to monitor, treat, and control it can be found at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

and also at

https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19

 

We are grateful for your support as we strive to keep all our students and staff members safe, not only under the current circumstances, but at all times when they are at school or are engaged in school-related activities or events.