Risk Continues to Remain Low Throughout Massachusetts
WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Justin Bartholomew would like to provide residents with the latest information regarding the 2019 new coronavirus (COVID-19) as federal and state officials continue to monitor the virus internationally.
There is currently one confirmed case and one “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). There are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Groveland, Merrimac or West Newbury at this time. Health officials report that the risk of contracting the virus in Massachusetts remains “low.”
Last week, the CDC reported the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States in California, and six people in the United States have since died from the virus. New cases of the virus nationwide have come to light this week as well, and currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 80 cases of the virus in the United States, including those who contracted the virus from person-to-person spread, travel and those who are under investigation. There are additionally 49 people with the virus who were repatriated to the United States from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and Wuhan, China.
The CDC is urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Italy, China, Iran and South Korea, which are designated “Warning Level 3.” Additionally, the CDC and Governor Charlie Baker have stated that those who return to the U.S. after visiting any Level 3 country to “should stay home and monitor their health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States.”
The district is aware that members of the Pentucket Towns may have traveled during February break and possibly on the weekends. We would like the community to know that we will offer alternative learning days and the use of virtual classroom technologies for those families that traveled in the CDC identified areas and are following the CDC recommendations. Please contact your school’s principal if this applies to your family and your school’s principal can help set that up for your student(s).
Any students who, by advice of the CDC, self-quarantine and do not report to school will be held harmless and given every opportunity to continue and keep up with their studies in effort to ensure minimal or zero disruption in their educational progress.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear 2-14 days of exposure. The DPH reports that symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia in severe cases.
“The precautions we are sharing are the same used to prevent colds and the flu, which are prevalent this time of year and community members are much more likely to contract,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “Just as we do every flu season, we are making sure classrooms are regularly and thoroughly disinfected to prevent the spreading of germs. We are continuing to monitor and share updates as they become available.”
Parents and guardians are reminded that, in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as respiratory viruses and gastrointestinal illnesses, students need to be free from fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours before returning to school if they have been sick.
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, residents are recommended to take the following measures from DPH:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if unable to wash, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your coughs or sneezes with an issue or sleeve (not with your hands)
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick
At this time, the DPH is not recommending people wear masks in public as the risk to the public remains low and there is no substantial evidence suggesting wearing a mask protects an individual outside of preventing someone from spreading a respiratory illness to others in a clinic waiting room.