As a Matter of Fact!

SPECIAL EDITION: SOMSD Coronavirus Update: 3/5/20

SOMSD Updates Regarding the Coronavirus

Dear SOMSD Community,

We want to provide some additional updates regarding the Coronavirus. As we shared, we are monitoring this situation very closely and are working with various partners to ensure that we provide our community with relevant updates.

The COVID-19 situation is fluid and information we receive from various sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NJ Governor’s Office, NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) and our local township health departments are updated daily. It is our goal to offer our community with timely and accurate information regarding this situation. Last night, Governor Murphy, announced the first presumptive positive case of Coronavirus in New Jersey. Currently, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in our District.

As per previous CDC guidelines, while working with our township health departments (with guidelines from state epidemiologist and NJDOH) we are monitoring a couple of reports for parents/staff who have reported traveling from Level-3 countries (China, Italy, Iran and South Korea).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the immediate health risk to the general U.S. public is considered low at this time. The most important thing you can do right now is to follow the prevention guidelines issued by the CDC; which among the most important recommendations is to continuously wash your hands (also ensure that your students wash their hands often).

Updates to CDC Guidelines:

On March 4, the CDC provided several key guideline updates regarding travelers who are returning from countries with widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission arriving in the United States. The new guidelines are below:

  • This new guidance advises those with a travel history to countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice to self-quarantine, self-monitor, and practice social distancing for 14 days from the time the individual left the area with widespread ongoing community spread.
  • Self (Passive) monitoring means the person being monitored assesses themselves for fever with a thermometer, twice daily and monitor for symptoms of coronavirus (coughing, fever, shortness of breath).
  • Self-quarantine/Social distancing means remaining out of public places where close contact with others may occur (e.g., shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums), workplaces (unless the person works in an office space that allows distancing from others), schools and other classroom settings, and local public conveyances (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, ride share) for the duration of the potential incubation period.
  • Individuals who become ill with respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath) within these 14 days should contact a medical professional for advice and tell them about your recent travel. If you must be medically evaluated, follow instructions provided by the health care provider on how to safely seek medical care.

Updates to District Protocol (as of March 3):

In alignment with the new CDC guidelines and as an update to our previous community correspondence (sent on 2/28), the District now recommends the following revised protocols for anyone who has recently traveled to a Level 3 country (China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) impacted by the coronavirus.

For our parents/families who have traveled abroad to Level 3 travel advisory areas, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Parents should inform their school principal and school nurse if they have recently traveled to those areas;
  2. The school district and local health department advise, for those who have traveled, self-quarantine and social distancing, which means to avoid public spaces for the duration of the incubation period.
  3. For those who have traveled: self-quarantine and social distancing for 14 days. During that time, monitor body temperature twice a day and any symptoms of cough, fever, and shortness of breath, etc. for 14 days. Refer to the After Travel Precautions for those from Countries with Widespread Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission Arriving in the United States
  4. Our local health departments (Maplewood and South Orange) can provide further guidance during the incubation period of 14 days (please reach out to your appropriate local health department)

District Health Guidelines/Recommendations for Sickness:

  • As per standard school guidelines, sick students with a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash should not attend school (students should now be symptom-free for 48-hours before returning to school);
  • School nurses will have the authority to send sick and feverish students home (any sick students waiting to be picked up will be kept in an area separate from general student body);
  • Sick staff are encouraged to also stay home and can be sent home by the school nurse if infection is suspected;

Spring Break Note: We do not recommend non-essential travel to any of the countries that the CDC has flagged as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (widespread, ongoing transmission). We also advise families who may be traveling to err on the side of caution for international travel and continue to follow the CDC for travel advisory updates.

District Planning/Prevention Efforts:

  • As a continuing preventative measure custodians will clean high contact surfaces (door handles, handrails, etc.) as well as large contact areas more frequently with disinfectant products to help lessen the transfer of common bacteria/viruses.
  • As per CDC guidelines, the District is actively working to update our existing Emergency Management Procedure to address any possible disruption to our schools. We are working with various stakeholders (as well as awaiting specific guidelines from NJDOE) regarding a scalable plan to address the continuation of instruction for those students who will be out of school during the self- quarantine period of 14 days. When it is finalized we will share it with the greater community.

We are in close and daily contact with both the Maplewood and South Orange Health departments. In addition, we are monitoring alerts from the NJ Department of Health, the Governor’s Office, as well as all major national organizations, to ensure that we are sharing timely and accurate information with our community.


Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

Superintendent of Schools

Important Resources & Guidelines

What You Need To Know About Handwashing

The School District of South Orange and Maplewood

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