March 4, 2020
Dear SPUSD Families,
As concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) increase, we wanted to provide you with the most recent information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health along with additional tips to keep you and your family healthy.
This morning, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that new cases of coronavirus have been discovered within Los Angeles County and declared a local health emergency to assist in accessing state and federal funds to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Please note that none of the new cases were due to community spread but occurred in patients who had been directly exposed to the coronavirus. SPUSD works around the clock gathering regular updates and information, and we will continue to work in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs within South Pasadena, local public health officials may direct a temporary school(s) closure, including the SPUSD Extended Day Program, to help slow the spread of illness. Like most school districts, SPUSD does not have the infrastructure or human resources to support a quality, home-school program or distance-learning environment for all students. Now is the time to create a family plan in the event schools are closed for a period of time. Lost instructional time, if not waived by the California Department of Education, will be fulfilled by adding instructional minutes to the school day and/or adding instructional days to the school calendar when school resumes following the closure.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
We remain diligent in our routine efforts to clean frequently touched surfaces and objects. Our Food Service Department is taking additional preventive strategies to limit exposure and potential spread of illness. At this time, students and school staff should go about their daily lives and practice the same precautions they normally take during cold and flu season. Here is some additional information you may find useful:
- CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
- At this time, experts believe that COVID-19 is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you. However, all surfaces where these infected droplets land may be infectious for a period of time.
- If your child is sick at school with mild illness, he/she will be sent home. This is a requirement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Mild illness is defined as a fever of 100 degrees F or more, or a productive cough.
- If your child has a productive cough, that is, a cough with any respiratory droplets being expelled from the nose or throat, he/she must stay home or will be sent home until the cough is no longer producing mucus.
- A student with a dry cough, such as occurs with bronchial irritation or asthma, and who does not have a fever, may attend school. In an abundance of caution for our students who are immunocompromised, if there is any disagreement among adults as to whether a cough is productive or not, or whether a student has both a productive and a dry cough, we will take the conservative approach and assume that it is productive and send the student home.
- If your child has a fever of 100 degrees or more, he/she must be kept home until he/she is fever free without fever reducing medications for 24 hours. This means that if your child is sent home from school with a fever, he/she may not be in school next day. Please do not send your child to school the day after we have sent them home with a fever. Giving your feverish child Tylenol and sending him/her to school will mask the fever and expose other students and staff to the illness causing your child’s fever.
- If your child vomits at school, he/she must be sent home. If the child does not have a fever, and has had no symptoms during the night, he/she may return to school the next day. If your child had been vomiting, however, we recommend that he/she waits to return to school 24 hours after symptoms have abated.
- Hand sanitizer (with minimum 60% alcohol) is acceptable but hand washing is best: using soap & water for 20 seconds; before eating, after using the bathroom, after coughing, sneezing, blowing nose.
- If you have been in China or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Since travel to South Korea, Iran, and Italy have been upgraded by the CDC to Level 3 (essential travel only), it is possible that in the future, restrictions will be placed on persons who traveled in those countries as well. Please follow instructions from public health officials during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your travel or exposure to an infected person if applicable.
- Students enrolling in school from countries other than China are not subject to self-isolation at this time, but events are rapidly changing and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health may announce in the near future that they be subject to social distancing orders.
We are aware of an escalated level of concern and anxiety among families of Asian heritage. Situations such as these can give rise to discrimination based on perceptions and stereotypes. Individuals who make assumptions, even with positive intentions of safety, about the risk of others, can be seen as demonstrating bias and racism, behavior we all want to avoid. It’s important not to make assumptions about students or staff based on their race, country of origin, or travel history.
Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.