Letter to Families from Superintendent Duerr Regarding Coronavirus
Posted March 11, 2020
Hello Staff and Families,
I would like to share specific information on how Falmouth Public Schools is responding to the broader coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Although there are no presumptive cases in the Falmouth community, we are taking preventive steps.
Guidance. Our primary point of contact for any communicable disease and now the COVID-19 is our local health department. Their work is informed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has directed us to our local health department for all guidance. We are in regular communication with the Falmouth Health Department. Additionally, Town officials are meeting weekly to stay abreast of the ever-evolving information and for preparedness deliberations.
School and Bus Cleaning. Our custodial staff is cleaning and disinfecting on a daily basis at all our schools. Our custodians began an enhanced cleaning routine when the flu season began and have now increased the frequency of cleaning since the US outbreak of COVID-19. We are following the cleaning techniques recommended by MDPH and CDC. In addition, every classroom has been provided Clorox/Lysol wipes, so doorknobs, light switches, and frequently handled objects can be wiped down throughout the day. Hand sanitizers are available throughout our schools. All school buses are cleaned daily.
Preventive Practices. Our staff is promoting healthy practices such as washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water is not available; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or the inside of elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose, and face; avoiding sharing personal items; and stay home when sick.
Attendance. Good school attendance is critical to learning and achievement. Many students are proud to receive their perfect or near-perfect attendance awards. However, during flu season or anytime a student is sick, they should stay home. If symptoms include a fever, the guidance we received is people should not return to work or school for 24 hours after the fever returns to normal. As we send this message to staff and students, we are also suspending attendance recognition for now.
Cancellation of student travel. Our School Committee has canceled the only international trip which was planned for April. No international trips will be approved until further notice. Domestic trips are being considered on an individual basis with ongoing review based on evolving guidance from the MDPH and the CDC.
Confidentiality. As with any medical information, confidentiality about our staff, students, and families must be maintained at all times according to federal regulations. Information about reasons for absences, travel history, and illnesses cannot be given out and must be protected. If there should be a Falmouth case in the future, please keep this in mind. I will provide our staff and families with as much information as allowed. To reduce uncertainty and anxiety, an ongoing important message is for children to know that adults at home and school are taking care of their health and safety.
Up-to-Date Information. The MDPH and CDC websites offer the most up-to-date information. MDPH: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ Specific inquiries should be directed to the Falmouth Health Department. You may also contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health 24-hour emergency hotline at 617-983-6800.
FPS Core Values. Our School Committee has just recently shared our new draft core values. At these troubling times, I look toward two of the core values: Embrace each other’s differences and cultivate community and Encourage a life of growth and wellness. It is essential that we hold true to our core values especially our commitment to community and relationships.
Best Practice. Anyone who is ill should remain at home, and we ask that you please consult with your primary care physician if you have any questions or concerns about sending your child to school.
Our priority is keeping everyone informed, safe, and healthy. As always, thank you for your support during the best and worst of times.
Lori S. Duerr, Ed.D.
Falmouth Public Schools