Schools ask families to report students’ recent international travel to Coronavirus hot spots

Above: Five countries were identified in a CDC travel alert on five countries this afternoon. The district is following up to ask parents to reach out if students traveled to one recently. (images cropped from CDC website)

Northborough and Southborough Schools are asking parents to let them know if any students have recently traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan. The five countries were identified in a travel alert due to outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus (aka the Coronavirus). 

The district’s memo doesn’t give a specific time frame for what “recent” travel covers. It also doesn’t instruct that students who traveled should be kept home. Instead it asks parents to contact the Wellness Coordinator for guidance.

This afternoon’s request is part of the most recent memo to parents about the virus.

The administration issued a prior memo in response to fears over the virus. It sought to reassure parents. The memo promised they were keeping a close eye on the CDC’s updates and recommendations and in close contact with local and state agencies. Efforts were being made to keep schools clean. And (as repeated below) they reminded the public about sanitary practices to reduce chance of infection.

Since a CDC official had publicly commented that the public should check on their school’s planning for potential “teleschools”, I did. I emailed Superintendent Greg Martineau to ask if the district had or was working on a plan should remote teaching ever be required. His response included:

We are working as a leadership team to ensure the District’s pandemic plans are up to date, which includes reviewing the following: Communication; Continuity of Learning; Prevention and Education, and; Stakeholder Coordination.

Today’s memo was in response to a travel alert issued by the CDC this afternoon. That alert called for travelers to “limit interactions” for 2 weeks following travel to the five countries. 

Here is the district’s message: 

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):

This afternoon, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated Travel Health Alert for all United States residents, instructing travelers returning from countries with a Level 3 alert (currently China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy) to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the US. This guidance also instructs travelers returning from countries with a Level 2 alert (currently Japan) to monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the US. In addition, the guidance advises against any non-essential travel to Level 3 countries.

The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough are asking parents or guardians of students who may have recently traveled to any of these countries (China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan), to please notify Mary Ellen Duggan, District Wellness Coordinator at mduggan@nsboro.k12.ma.us or 508-486-5115 x 71254 for guidance.

Lastly, Governor Baker has requested that all high schools suspend international travel for the time being. Algonquin Regional High School does not sponsor international trips.

Please continue to promote and employ the prevention measures recommended by the CDC, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), which include:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if unable to wash, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Covering your coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not with your hands);
  • Staying away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick; and,
  • Being fever-free for at least 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine) before returning to school/work.

Respectfully,

Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools

Mary Ellen Duggan, RN
Wellness Coordinator

Dr. Safdar Medina
School Physician

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