LITTLETON — Superintendent Kelly Clenchy and the Littleton Public Schools wish to provide residents with the latest information regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), as health officials continue to monitor the virus locally, domestically and internationally.
There are currently 92 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10. There are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Littleton at this time. Health officials report that the risk of contracting the virus in Massachusetts remains “low.”
Littleton Public Schools are open and functioning as they normally do, with all students and staff in attendance in accordance with district policies. The current DPH guidelines indicate that neither students nor staff should self-quarantine unless instructed to do so by health officials.
At this time, Littleton Public Schools leadership is exercising caution and will cancel all scheduled school field trips for at least the next three weeks. Meeting and event capacities will be limited as well to avoid large crowds per DPH recommendations.
All local actions are being undertaken in accordance with the latest guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes CDC guidance for school administrators.
Currently the CDC is reporting 647 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 observation.
The COVID-19 situation is very fluid, and new information and guidelines are being posted by the CDC on a regular basis. The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads. The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
As with every flu season, Littleton Public Schools has been regularly conducting thorough disinfecting and cleaning efforts within school facilities. School buildings are being cleaned and disinfected along with desks, chairs, light switches, door pushes, pencil sharpeners, fitness equipment, lockers, conference tables, band rooms, lavatories, faculty rooms, offices, all floors and more.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has determined that it will not count absenteeism from early March onward, and that school districts will not have to extend the school year beyond its planned end dates as a result of the coronavirus. Littleton school officials will continue to monitor the situation and proceed in a way that both minimizes the disruption to students’ learning while ensuring the wellness of the school community.
For any students who need to miss school, the Littleton Public Schools will provide learning materials to ensure that students will be able to continue their lessons with as little disruption as possible. No student or employee in self-quarantine will have their absences counted against them. Employees who require sick leave should contact their principal to discuss the use of their sick time/paid time off.
As always, if anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not come to work or school and they are advised to contact their primary care physician.
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.
The DPH recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Practice good hand hygiene! Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
Additional updates will be released if additional relevant information becomes available from the Littleton Public Schools.