School closings not necessary at this time
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (March 12, 2020) – Superintendents at all three Lansing school districts released information today reassuring families that they are following guidelines and updates from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH).
Currently health officials are not recommending that schools close. But Superintendent Nathan Schilling (District 158) explained in his letter, “As with any global outbreak, situations can evolve rapidly and recommendations are subject to change. District 158 remains committed to approaching this public health concern with caution and providing you with current information regarding COVID-19.”
Superintendent Hughes George (District 171) let Sunnybrook constituents know about the possibility that the husband of a staff member may have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus. District 171 contacted CCDPH, and the administration was advised that the staff member could continue work as usual because of the “very low risk.”
“This information is being shared in order to prevent panic,” explained Dr. George.
Superintendent Teresa Lance (District 215) informed families that the district is working to develop an e-learning platform. “In the event we need to close schools,” she explained, “we want to provide instruction, virtually, to our students in the most appropriate way possible without risking further exposure to the virus.”
Lansing schools have also “significantly enhanced” the cleaning and sanitation efforts that were already in place, increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning, and giving special attention to “touch points”—bathrooms, desks, water fountains, tables, keyboards, railings, etc. Anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizers are also being made available throughout the schools.
All three school districts are reinforcing the need to follow basic hygiene practices to help prevent illnesses:
- Stay home from school or work if sick or if you have been exposed to a sick household member
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and wear a face mask at mass gatherings
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Review travel advisories from the federal government when planning travel
- Consult with your healthcare provider about getting an influenza vaccination if you haven’t already done so
Though the preventive measures are familiar, and the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of the flu, coronavirus is particularly dangerous because it is a new virus that people have not yet developed immunity against it.
Lansing schools will continue to provide updates as new decisions are made.
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