Coronavirus Updates: Schools Step Up Precautions

2nd Update:

Huntington school superintendent James W. Polansky said Friday night that schools have been asked to take a more active role in identifying any students or staff returning from certain countries that have reported outbreaks of the Coronavirus.

“As per a communication received from the Suffolk County Department of Health earlier this evening, school districts have been issued the responsibility of reporting in confidence to the Department any students and staff returning from countries currently identified by Level 2 (Japan) or Level 3 (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea) travel health notices, upon our receipt of self-reported information. (Information can be reported to a building principal via phone or
electronically.) Data to be transmitted will include the contact information of the student or staff member who traveled, the country to which he/she traveled, and the date of return,” Polansky’s letter reads.

Earlier, he and South Huntington schools superintendent David Bennardo noted the extra cleaning and other precautions the districts are taking to ward off the virus.

And Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Dr. Michael B. Grosso, medical director at Huntington Hospital, will provide an update Monday on measures taken in town to prevent the spread of the disease. They plan a press conference at noon at the Huntington Senior Center, 423 Park Ave.

On Thursday, two Suffolk County legislators are urging residents to remain calm though vigilant in responding to the spread of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19.

William “Doc” Spencer, a Huntington otolaryngologist who represents the 18th District in the Suffolk Legislator, and Rob Calarco, presiding officer of the legislature, reminded residents of good sanitary practices, such as washing hands, and staying home when sick.

“We want to remind Suffolk County residents of the importance of remaining calm. There are no confirmed cases in Suffolk County and we are closely monitoring the situation,” the two said in a letter sent out Thursday.

 The two said that as of Thursday, the Suffolk County Health Department is  monitoring 15 people who have recently traveled to affected areas. “Not one has symptoms, and all have been advised to remain home, in isolation, until they are cleared. SCDHS is in contact with these people every day to ensure their safety as well as the health and safety of all residents.”

For updated information, visit the Health Department website or call (631) 854-0000. Additionally, New York has established a Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

Earlier, Polansky wrote, “We have met on the matter with several State Health and Education Department officials, as well as with Suffolk County officials,throughout the past week,” Polansky wrote. “It is important that we work together to do everything possible to avoid spreading panic among students. Conversations with children should be conducted in an age-appropriate manner. Too much or inaccurate information can easily increase their anxiety levels.”

Steps include:

 We have purchased and have nearly completed full installation of hand sanitizer dispensers in all classrooms and offices that do not have sinks. The dispensers were in several locations already, including cafeterias. The
solution used contains an alcohol percentage of 65%, which is appropriate for schools. Please note that handwashing (for 20 seconds or more) is preferred and should be encouraged!
 Age-appropriate decal signs, reminding all individuals of the importance of hand-washing/sanitizing, have been or will be placed in each classroom throughout the district.
 We have purchased an electrostatic sanitizing/disinfecting unit for each building. The process will be completed at least once weekly in every room and office after the standard cleaning.
 We have delivered keyboard wipes for use in cleaning computers and other shared devices.
 Custodial staff have been very diligent in terms of the following:
 Paying particular sanitary attention to handles, knobs, stairwells, bathrooms, backs of chairs, desktops and other surfaces where hand contact is frequent.
 Cleaning and sanitizing door handles and stairwell handrails several times during the day and at night.
 Monitoring soap/sanitizer dispensers regularly to ensure that they remain stocked. Our supply of sanitizer is sufficient for some time. More is on order.
 We have been in contact with our transportation service provider. The company is taking similar action to ensure the ongoing cleanliness of high contact areas on buses.

South Huntington’s Bennardo said that officials attended regional training sessions on the best ways to clean buildings and combat viral infections. All desks, tables, and door knobs will be cleaned with Virex every night.

Other actions:

GurwinJewish posted this note on its website: In order to protect the health of our residents, we ask that you refrain from visiting if you are feeling sick or have traveled internationally within the last 14 days. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said that it had decided to cancel meetings and courses scheduled to start in March. Future meetings and courses are being considered on a rolling basis. It also warned scientists coming from certain countries that  “We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it evolves, following CDC guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of our participants and staff. Participants from CDC Warning Level 3 countries (currently China, South Korea, Italy and Iran) are being advised to cancel their participation at upcoming meetings unless they can demonstrate having departed the area at least two weeks prior to their visit to CSHL. Full advisory

It also warned participants in meetings about scams. “If you receive a phone call about booking a hotel room for a CSHL meeting or course, this is a company posing as a CSHL approved vendor and is a scam. Please do not give anyone your personal information or payment information if you receive one of these phone calls.”

 

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