UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS
Concerns regarding coronavirus continue, and we want you to know that your state and local leaders are carefully monitoring and addressing the situation through bipartisan collaboration.
For additional information on coronavirus, you can visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services resource page here.
As we confront the rapidly spreading coronavirus, please check for updates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The NC Department of Public Safety is following these same guidelines, so we are coordinated in our efforts. We are sharing the current update below. In particular, please note steps schools and districts should take under the two scenarios of confirmed cases or non-confirmed cases in your respective districts.
Right now, we are asking everyone to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent the spread of any sickness. Below is guidance from the Center for Disease Control on preventing the spread of germs.
Your NC public schools are working closely with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Thank you for helping us to keep our students and families healthy.
The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps you can take to help stop the spread of germs.
- Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
- Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
Tips on hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Additional information shared last week:
What is the role of schools in responding to COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus, and we are learning more about it every day. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. At this point, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy. More information on COVID-19 is available here.
Schools, working together with local health departments, have an important role in slowing the spread of diseases to help ensure students have safe and healthy learning environments. Schools serve students, staff, and visitors from throughout the community. All of these people may have close contact in the school setting, often sharing spaces, equipment, and supplies.
Guidance for schools which do not have COVID-19 identified in their community:
To prepare for possible community transmission of COVID-19, the most important thing for schools to do now is plan and prepare. As the global outbreak evolves, schools should prepare for the possibility of community-level outbreaks. Schools want to be ready if COVID-19 does appear in their communities.
Childcare and K-12 school administrators nationwide can take steps to help stop or slow the spread of respiratory infectious diseases, including COVID-19:
- Review, update, and implement emergency operations plans (EOPs). This should be done in collaboration with local health departments and other relevant partners. Focus on the components, or annexes, of the plans that address infectious disease outbreaks.
- Ensure the plan includes strategies to reduce the spread of a wide variety of infectious diseases (e.g., seasonal influenza). Effective strategies build on everyday school policies and practices.
- Ensure the plan emphasizes common-sense preventive actions for students and staff. For example, emphasize actions such as staying home when sick; appropriately covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning frequently touched surfaces; and washing hands often.
- CDC has workplace resources such as posters with messages for staff about staying home when sick and how to avoid spreading germs at work.
- Other health and education professional organizations may also have helpful resources your school can use or share. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides information on germ prevention strategies and reducing the spread of illness in childcare settings.
- Ensure handwashing strategies include washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- CDC offers several free handwashing resources that include health promotion materials, information on proper handwashing techniques, and tips for families to help children develop good handwashing habits.
- Reference key resources while reviewing, updating, and implementing the EOP:
- Multiple federal agencies have developed resources on school planning principles and a 6-step process for creating plans to build and continually foster safe and healthy school communities before, during, and after possible emergencies. Key resources include guidance on developing high-quality school emergency operations plans and a companion guide on the role of school districts in developing high-quality school emergency operations plans.
- The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center’s website contains free resources, trainings, and TA to schools and their community partners, including many tools and resources on emergency planning and response to infectious disease outbreaks.
Childcare and K-12 administrators can also support their school community by sharing resources with students (if resources are age-appropriate), their families, and staff. Coordinate with local health officials to determine what type of information might be best to share with the school community. Consider sharing the following fact sheets and information sources:
- Information about COVID-19 available through state and local health departments
• General CDC fact sheets to help staff and students’ families understand COVID-19 and the steps they can take to protect themselves:
- CDC Information on COVID-19 and children
- CDC information for staff, students, and their families who have recently traveled back to the United States from areas where CDC has identified community spread of coronavirus:
- A list of countries where community spread of COVID-19 is occurring can be found on the CDC webpage: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel
For questions about students who plan to travel, or have recently traveled, to areas with community spread of COVID-19, refer to CDC’s FAQ for travelers. Schools can also consult with state and local health officials. Schools may need to postpone or cancel trips that could expose students and staff to potential community spread of COVID-19. Students returning from travel to areas with community spread of COVID-19 must follow the guidance they have received from health officials. COVID-19 information for travel is updated regularly on the CDC website.
If schools are dismissed, schools can consider the following steps:
- Temporarily cancel extracurricular group activities and large events.
- Cancel or postpone events such as after-school assemblies and pep rallies, field trips, and sporting events.
- Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere.
- Discourage gatherings at places like a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or the local shopping mall.
- Take Steps to Stay Healthy
- Guidance for schools with identified cases of COVID-19 in their community
- Guidelines and Expectations For Students Returning To School After Travel
- Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource
- Talking to Children About Coronavirus
- How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
- Managing Coroanvirus Anxiety, Personal Stories of Triumph and More…
- Student Travel Disclosure Form
- Coronavirus explainer for young kids (English)
- Coronavirus explainer for young kids (Spanish)
- Stop the spread of germs
- CDC fact sheet (English)
- CDC fact sheet (Spanish)
- Symptoms poster (English)
- Symptoms poster (Spanish)
- Wash your hands poster (English)
- Wash your hands poster (Spanish)
- TNTP Resources for Learning at Home
- Free Spectrum Internet for Students