Reminder: No school next week (March 16-20) for spring break.
Dear BVUSD Families and Staff,
As you know, we are closely monitoring the COVID-9 situation and making the necessary preparations in case the COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community. To date, no student or employee of Bennett Valley Union School District has tested positive for COVID-19.
Information regarding the virus and the many efforts underway to stop the spread are moving quickly. In fact, on Friday, literally as I was writing the E-Blast, I received the notification regarding the cancellation of the Ag Days field trip. To offer timely notice to families, I sadly included that information in the document. Not ten minutes later, I received the call regarding the temporary closure of Walker Creek Ranch and, very disappointedly for our sixth graders, I added that to the document. While writing this yesterday, Governor Newsom recommended canceling or postponing larger events, the California Department of Education issued guidance about excluding students and staff in certain circumstances, and I received additional guidance from the County Office of Education regarding spring break travel. I have included the highlights of these advisories.
Walker Creek Alternatives and Refunds: I spoke to the director of Walker Creek yesterday to see whether there might be an option for a shorter outdoor education experience that does not require the overnight component that our sixth grade team might consider as part of their planning. Walker Creek officials are meeting this week to determine what they might be able offer. We will keep parents of sixth graders informed as things develop. Once we know whether an alternative is possible and its cost, we will let you know how the refunds will be handled.
Travel Restrictions: The CDC now advises that travelers returning from mainland China, South Korea, Italy and Iran stay home for 14 days following their return. Based on this guidance, travelers returning from these countries are to be excluded from school for 14 days, beginning the day after they left the affected country.
As noted above, the Center for Disease Control advises 14 day home quarantines for travelers coming to the US from several countries. Some countries are now requiring 14 day home (or hotel) quarantines upon arrival for travelers coming to their countries from the US.
This is a very important link if you will be traveling during Spring Break: CDC guidance on returning travelers is available here.
The County Office of Education shared the following message:
As spring recess approaches, we would like to remind you to please take all necessary precautions to protect yourselves and our community from this and any illness.
- People who travel outside the country will be screened upon re-entry to the United States, as determined by federal and state officials.
- If you travel to mainland China or any country with COVID-19 travel advisories during the upcoming spring break (including Iran, Italy, and South Korea), you will be subject to the above guidelines and any new guidelines that may be implemented. Visit the CDC website for a list of destinations with risk of community spread of Coronavirus.
- If you travel to any affected countries we urge you to follow all related guidelines to support the health and safety of our community.
- School districts do not have the authority to monitor travel of our students or staff, but they do have both the authority and responsibility to exclude students (and staff) who pose a health risk to others. Students will be allowed to return to school when a written note from a health care provider clears them by stating that the person is no longer contagious.
The California Department of Education has advised districts to exclude students and staff who meet any of the following three criteria:
1. Traveled during the previous 14 days to an area identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice location. CDC website.
2. Confirmed to be exposed—confirmed to have been in close (less than 6 feet) contact during the previous 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
3. Showing the following signs:
- Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher
- Respiratory symptoms such as
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
Students and staff who are excluded from school will be required to present verification from a medical provider that they are safe to return to school.
The Department of Health Services is monitoring all suspected/confirmed cases of the virus in our community and will let us know if there is any further action to take regarding our schools. We are in close coordination with the Sonoma County Office of Education and the Department of Health Services.
How you can help: We all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in our school district community and in helping each other through this stressful time. We encourage everyone to practice good habits, including:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Wash for 20 seconds, using soap and hot water. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
- As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- If children are feeling sick, please keep them home from school. Allow them some time to feel better so that they do not risk infecting others.
- Students and staff must be fever free (without the use of fever reducing medications) for 24 hours before returning to school.
- Please remain calm and kind. This is a stressful time and can leave anyone on edge. Although most people have been wonderful, kind, and patient, in the past couple of weeks, we have seen a few pretty alarming reactions. Two such examples include: Dr. Eberly let you know of a case a couple of weeks ago where a person keyed the car of a person parked in the handicapped space in the Yulupa parking lot. The person who parked in the spot did actually have a handicapping condition but had simply forgotten to put up the placard. On Monday, during morning drop off at Yulupa, someone parked on Tachevah dumped garbage and food waste all over right in front of a home. These acts don’t help the situation at all and can hurt innocent people. Kindness helps everyone!
We will continue to communicate with you in the days and weeks to come. As always, the safety of our students, staff and families remains our top priority. We will continue to act out an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Sue Field, Ed.D.