Kent keeps schools closed

Tahoma works to prevent spread of Coronavirus

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Kentwood High School and Covington Elementary will be closed again Tuesday because of coronavirus concerns, the Kent School District posted on its website Monday evening.

The district also closed the two schools on Monday.

Here is the message Superintendent Calvin Watts posted on Monday:

Dear Kent School District Community:

Kentwood High School and Covington Elementary School will be closed on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, as we complete the thorough cleaning and disinfecting of both schools in alignment with the Center for Disease Control standards.

The safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We are adhering to our standard cleaning practices that include hospital-grade disinfectant cleaner in all KSD schools and facilities. Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces will continue throughout our schools and on our buses per the standard procedures for infection prevention.

We cannot stress enough the importance of your staying home when sick, washing hands frequently, avoiding touching one’s face, and taking other preventative steps outlined by the Washington State Department of Health on their School Nurse and Administrator Resources and Recommendations webpage.

During this time of heightened anxiety, our community values may be tested. We need to continue to demonstrate compassion and care as we navigate this global health situation. Please visit the Washington State Department of Health website for the most accurate and up to date information.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update you as we have more information. If you have any questions, please e-mail communications@kent.k12.wa.us.

Kentwood is in Covington but many of its students live in Kent.

Watts prior to the Monday closure said:

“Out of an abundance of caution, Kentwood HS and Covington Elementary are closed on Monday, March 2. We have mobilized our custodial staff to begin thoroughly cleaning & disinfecting both schools.The safety of our students and staff is our first priority.”

Furthermore, Watts explained that a parent of two Kentwood students was “experiencing flu-like symptoms” and is waiting to be tested for the virus. The family is self-quarantined at home, Watts said, and has been in contact with Public Health officials and are awaiting the test results.

Also, another member of the same family who works at Covington Elementary was not showing any flu-like symptoms but did work all of last week, Watts said.

School district officials will continue to monitor the situation and update the public with new information.

TAHOMA TAKES PRECAUTIONS

While no cases have been reported in the Maple Valley area, the Tahoma School District is taking extra steps to keep the Coronavirus fears down.

“Because things are changing so quickly, we are participating in regular update meetings about coronavirus with Public Health — Seattle & King County, the Puget Sound Educational Service District, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and other health and safety authorities. Tahoma is following the guidance of health authorities in the creation of its response plans,” a statement from the Tahoma School District stated.

Tahoma’s planning and preparation for any potential cases of coronavirus is being led by a team that includes Assistant Superintendent Lori Cloud, Nurse Coordinator Jennifer Lyons, Supervisor of Operations Sean P. Kelly, principals and other administrators. The team has developed a list of tasks that will occur now and in the event of a suspected exposure or positive identification of a case of coronavirus among students or staff.

“As always we want to partner with families to ensure the health and safety of students. You and your student can help us by following these guidelines:

· Keep students home when they are sick. The primary symptoms of coronavirus include cough, fever and shortness of breath. Students should remain home until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours.

· Staff members should stay home when they are sick.

· Wash hands often with soap and warm water. Hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol is a good substitute if soap and water are not available.

· Avoid touching your face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth, with unwashed hands..

· Cover your cough with a tissue or elbow; masks are not recommended.

State health officials recommend being checked for coronavirus if a person is:

· Ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have traveled from China in the last 14 days.

· Ill with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been identified by public health officials as a recent close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for COVID-19 infection.

If you or a family member have symptoms such as cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular healthcare provider. Health authorities recommend that people contact their healthcare provider by phone before visiting the office, urgent care clinic, or emergency room,” the statement reads.

As precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of the disease, Tahoma is doing the following:

· Changing its cleaning schedule from once a week deep clean and disinfect to twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Daytime custodians will also disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

· Disinfecting buses twice per week. Handrails on buses will be cleaned daily.

· Printing and displaying new, easy-to-follow posters about effective hand-washing. These are being distributed to all Tahoma buildings and will be posted near every sink.

· Adjusting daily schedules as needed to allow for hand-washing. We will be asking students to wash their hands when they arrive at school, before lunch and anytime they use the restroom, as well as when they arrive home.

· In conjunction with making time and providing ways for students to wash their hands, our teachers and staff will be leading students in age-appropriate hand-washing lessons tied to science. The lessons will help students understand why hand-washing is important, but also how it works, using “Glo Germ” and UV flashlights. Tahoma plans to provide a link to a videotaped lesson for students who are absent.

“We are beginning to explore the possibility of whether and how we could conduct remote learning in the event of a school closure. Our team hopes to send out a survey to families soon, to gauge how many devices families have in relation to how many students they have, along with Internet connection,” The Tahoma statement said.

Following the guidance of health officials, Tahoma is not canceling assemblies, sports or other events at this time. For staff members who are immunocompromised, and for families with students who are immunocompromised, please follow the guidance of your physician.

In the event of further developments, Tahoma will communicate directly with families and staff members, and we will post updates to this page on its website.

Coronavirus is not at all connected to race, ethnicity or nationality. The risk to students and the general public is low. Worldwide, 2 percent of cases are reported in people younger than age 20. Those most at risk are the immunocompromised and the elderly.


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