Coronavirus Response: Health and Safety Are Top Priorities

Students and staff should stay home if they are sick in any way

(IMAGE CREDIT: U.S. Department of State)

Kansas City, March 9, 2020: The safety and health of our school communities are of utmost concern as we continue to carefully monitor the spread of the coronavirus. With cases now confirmed in Missouri and Kansas, we will continue to speak frequently with Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Kansas City Health Department officials. Their guidance is critical to ensure the welfare of our community.

At this time, there is no vaccine for the virus, and the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure. We also know that the incubation period (the time between exposure and symptoms) is between one and 14 days. As a public school district, we play an important role in slowing the spread of infection by providing healthy learning environments. Our custodians’ current protocol entails using disinfectants approved by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on surfaces like handrails, doorknobs, soap dispensers, toilet paper dispensers, sinks, restroom stall doors, and office counters.

Acting on our responsibility to ensure safe learning environments, we have decided to cancel all school-sponsored trips that involve travel outside the U.S. This cancelation includes student trips planned by Lincoln College Preparatory Academy to Japan and Foreign Language Academy to Costa Rica.

In addition, we are advising you that all students who travel for any reason to countries under travel advisories with the CDC, which currently include China, Italy, South Korea, Iran and Japan, between now and the end of the school year, notify us of this travel. It is important to note that the CDC’s list of travel advisories may change rapidly. If your student is traveling to any CDC-identified country this semester, please inform your school administrator.

Any student or staff member who tests positive for the virus under any circumstances must stay home and avoid contact with others for the length of their illness plus 14 days following the end of symptoms. This quarantine extends to family members and anyone else who lives with the person who tested positive. During these 14 days, students will not be penalized and will receive make-up schoolwork.

The most important thing that you can do is to not send your child to school if they are feeling sick. If your child is sick, please keep them home until he/she is fever-free for 24 hours without medication, according to our District Illness Policy.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with common symptoms similar to the flu, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. With more than 100 active investigations across the nation, there has only been one patient under investigation in Missouri who tested negative for novel coronavirus. The Seattle Times recently published a very helpful and easy-to-understand fact sheet about the virus:

DHSS has established a dedicated website that also links to information from the CDC, for those seeking more information about this novel coronavirus. We urge all families to continue the practice of maintaining healthy behaviors necessary during any cold and flu season. These include but are not limited to:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available
  • Cover nose and mouth with a sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Bump elbows rather than shaking hands when greeting others
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
  • Stay home when you are sick

The district will continue to work with our partners at DHSS and the Kansas City Health Department as they monitor and manage the current situation with both the flu and novel coronavirus. Please be assured that district staff will continue to keep watch on illness in our schools, as is our standard practice. As always, we will share additional information with school communities as needed.

Thank you for your help in keeping our students healthy during this cold and flu season!