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Update Mar. 11: COVID-19/Coronavirus Information & Resources

Filed in Archive by on March 11, 2020

The following message from Superintendent Jody Monroe was emailed to all district families on Wednesday, March 11: 

Dear BC parent/guardian:

As we continue to monitor developments regarding coronavirus COVID-19, I want to provide you with some additional updates from our schools. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our school community, but we are learning more every day about this evolving public health issue and we are being proactive in our planning, as we prepare for possible disruptions to our instructional program or for possible school closures.

What happens if we have a student or staff member who has a confirmed case of COVID-19? In the event we are notified by the Albany County Department of Health that a student or staff member has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the school or schools associated with that case would be required to close for an initial period of 24 hours to determine next steps. If that were to happen, the Department of Health would work closely with district and building leaders during that 24-hour period to develop plans for any extended closure as well as determine any other precautionary actions we would need to take. As our most important partner in dealing with any communicable disease, the County Department of Health would provide guidance in determining the scope of any school dismissal and the duration of any closure. These decisions would be made on a case by case basis, as necessary. Should such decisions become necessary, the district will communicate this information immediately to all families districtwide. 

We continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of students and staff and are putting plans in place to minimize the impact of any school closure on our schools and the local community.

I have made the decision to cancel all international student trips for the rest of the school year. All other student field trips are canceled through April 17, the end of April break. At that time, the district will decide whether travel can resume. For the time being, most events will continue as scheduled. Any changes to scheduled school events will be shared with students and families via email and will be posted to our Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates page on the website: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/ 

In order to be proactive and responsible to our community, below are a number of ways we are addressing areas of concern regarding coronavirus:

  • We have well-established lines of communication with the Albany County Department of Health.
  • Our District Safety Team has met and will continue to meet to review our plans and procedures that need to be in place in the event of a school closure.
  • We have designated locations in all of our buildings to separate sick students from other students who may be accessing the health offices for other reasons.
  • We are monitoring student attendance and our nurses are in regular communication with families about absenteeism. They are recording instances of flu-like symptoms, cough, fever and other reported symptoms to be able to track students’ health as closely as possible.
  • We have identified critical operations and have established a plan to continue essential operations of the District.
  • We have provided resources on proper handwashing and encouraged faculty and staff to remind students about the importance of hygiene on their health and on the health of others. We have also asked them to limit sharing between students and to be patient, allowing extra time for handwashing.
  • We have added additional rigorous cleanings to our buses.
  • Our custodial staff is paying special attention to hard surfaces and highly-trafficked areas when cleaning. All classrooms are being stocked with additional cleaning tools and directions on how to use these cleaning and disinfecting items effectively.
  • We will be offering training to teachers on ways to carry on instruction in a digital environment at the middle and high school levels in the event of a school closure.

You can assist our efforts at school by reinforcing good hygiene for children at home and encouraging handwashing. This means regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This should be done: 

  • Before eating; 
  • After sneezing, coughing, or nose blowing;
  • After using the restroom;
  • Before handling food;
  • After touching or cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated; and
  • After using shared equipment like computer keyboards and mice.

Our administrators, faculty and staff have been asked to take this matter of public health seriously but to do so without causing unnecessary alarm or stress for our students.

Again, we will continue to share updates and resources on a regular basis and these resources will have a permanent home on the website, at least until this public health challenge is behind us. I appreciate your continued support of the Bethlehem schools as we navigate this difficult time together.

Sincerely,

Jody Monroe

Superintendent of Schools