Date: March 16, 2020
Dear Central Valley Families,
It is important to keep you updated on our school district’s plan regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As with any contagious illness, we are working closely with and following the guidelines of the Loup Basin Health Department. This situation is fluid and is subject to change hour to hour.
Most importantly, if you suspect your student is ill, please keep them home from school! I want to remind parents that you need to do what you believe is best for your student’s well-being. We are excusing absences of any student who is suspected of being ill, or any student whose parent does not feel comfortable sending them to school due to COVID-19. However, it is important to note that if school is still in session those excused students will still be expected to complete ongoing schoolwork.
By now you know that cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been found within the state of Nebraska. We understand that this news can be worrisome, and that extra attention will be placed on our schools in the coming days.
Governor Ricketts has organized school closings by their Educational Service Unit (ESU) membership. Central Valley is a member of ESU #10 based in Kearney. Governor Ricketts stated on Sunday, March 15 that if there is a community spread of COVID-19, meaning a spread of the virus where they cannot show a specific reason as to how the person became infected, schools within that ESU will be forced to close. Those closures could potentially be made for time periods up to 6-8 weeks, with reevaluation of the situation every 2 weeks. Additional decisions may be made regarding bordering counties, location of the community spread, etc. At this time, we have not been informed of the requirement to close. Again, this could change at any given moment. My goal is to keep all district patrons informed with our plans as the situation develops.
The purpose of school closures is to help reduce the strain on our health care system, by minimizing the number of infected individuals at any given point in time. People may carry the virus with limited or no symptoms. School closures will only help reduce the spread if people stay home!
We encourage you to check out the following resources regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Coronavirus Summary: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
Our students are depending on us to make sure they are safe. Part of that responsibility is to pass along the proper information about the disease and how best to prevent it from spreading. There are some simple, everyday steps you can take to reduce your chances of exposure and to protect our communities. Many of those steps are the same that you would take to prevent the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory illnesses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or sleeve) and throw the tissue away.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, eating well, and exercising all help your body stay resistant to disease.
- Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the United States.
To prevent stigma and discrimination, use only the guidance described by Loup Basin Health Department and state and public authorities.
There are many things to discuss and work out. What we really need to focus on first is the appropriate time to close schools if necessary. Then we will address questions, as best we can, as to what that process looks like. This is unprecedented territory for everyone, so please use patience as this situation evolves.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of our school sites with any additional questions. I know we are all facing uncertain times ahead and we are uncertain as to how our own lives will be impacted, but it is best to be prepared for potential school closures. What I do know is together we will get through any challenges that may arise in the upcoming days and months.
Central Valley Public Schools