EL MONTE UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
During what is probably a challenging and confusing time for us all, I am reaching out to provide a status update on new developments related to coronavirus and share some additional details about the actions we are taking and planning to protect our school community.
The health and safety of our students, staff, and families is our priority. While the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. remains relatively small, experts expect this number to grow as testing increases and more individuals seek care. Currently, the key recommendations from public health agencies to prevent the spread of coronavirus are regular, thorough, handwashing and that symptomatic individuals remain home rather than going to work or school. We echo this recommendation and ask that students with any signs of respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms be kept home.
COUNTY GUIDELINES & PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
We are in contact with our local Department of Public Health (DPH) to stay updated on the situation and take action as needed. The focus continues to be on preventing the spread of the illness by following basic sanitary practices. It’s a good time for all of us to become prepared, but not to panic. At schools, our custodial staff continues to focus on regularly cleaning surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, and desks.
Please continue to take all possible precautions to help reduce the risk of spreading germs to others. These include the following recommendations from DPH:
- # 1 prevention method is frequent handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used. Use of soap and water is best.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
- Face masks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and people who are sick.
- Get the flu vaccine if you have not done so this season. It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. Being protected against the flu will decrease the number of people using healthcare resources and allow resources to be available for people who may have COVID-19.
- DPH states there is no current need for significant "social distancing" measures in LA County, and the individual risk for contracting COVID-19 remains low for most individuals. However, DPH encourages everyone to make personal preparations now that include: Having an ample supply of essentials at home (including water, food, hygiene, medications, and pet food) and practicing simple strategies that limit your exposure to others who may be ill (such as verbal salutations in place of handshakes and hugs, not sharing utensils, cups and linens).
STATUS OF SCHOOLS
There currently are no school closures. DPH will work with schools to assess and determine, on a case by case basis, if a school needs to dismiss or close. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an individual who has been at school, it is not an automatic reason for school dismissal or closure. DPH will make the determination.
Our administration continues to discuss how student learning can continue should our school be closed temporarily. We are developing strategies for providing age-appropriate, remote lessons to students, taking accessibility into consideration, as well as tools for staying connected as a community should it become necessary. We will communicate more details around what this will look like as it becomes necessary.
Should our school need to close or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you directly via email, phone, and other means of district communication. If the situation remains stable, we will continue to update our community regularly.
Many families have reached out with questions and concerns regarding school-related travel. Currently, the status of our school trips is the following:
- All school-sponsored field trips, athletic competitions, and events will continue as scheduled until further notice. Weekly updates will be provided regarding any suspension or cancellation of school-related activities.
- At any time, parents or guardians may remove their child from participating in any school-sponsored co-curricular activities if ther have concerns regarding the coronavirus. Students shall not be penalized for such action.
We understand that there is additional anxiety around travel that families have planned for this time of year. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended against nonessential travel to South Korea, Italy, Iran, and China, but there are no other restrictions or recommendations against other international or domestic travel. We will all continue to monitor the situation for additional travel updates. If you are experiencing respiratory or flu-like symptoms following travel, please do not come to campus.
Last, we understand that continuing information about the coronavirus creates fear. We also know that there is a lot of misinformation circulating in our community. It’s important that we do not act out of fear, but rather focus on treating everyone in our community with kindness. Kindness is a part of our school culture and I know that we will continue to support an environment in which all students, staff, and families feel welcome. Be aware of the misinformation surrounding the coronavirus. You can get the most accurate information on the DPH website here.
I want to assure that we are doing everything we can to ensure our school community remains safe. Thank you for your support and dedication to our students.
Edward A. Zuniga, Ed.D.