Dear Bennett Valley Staff and Families,
As COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns continue to increase in Sonoma County, we want to provide families and staff with timely information as we get it.
First, the main advice is the remain calm and do what you can to help stop the spread. As I have mentioned in previous emails, we have enhanced our cleaning and sanitizing protocols at school. It is flu season and we are following the best disease-prevention practices in schools. You can also follow best practices at home, such as:
· Frequently washing your hands with soap and water
· Keeping surfaces clean
· Sneezing or coughing into a tissue or your elbow
· Most importantly, keeping your children home when they are sick with flu-like symptoms, including a fever of 100-degrees Fahrenheit or 38-degrees Celsius or higher, shortness of breath, and coughing.
· Students are to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
· Please contact our attendance line when your child is staying home sick: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707 542-2201 ex 114
The Department of Public Health is taking an extremely conservative position in an extraordinary effort to stop the spread. They are drafting an updated letter for superintendents to send to parents either today or over the weekend. I will send it to you when I get it.
Both the Sonoma and Marin County Departments of Public Health have recommended canceling over night field trips. The Marin County Office of Education operates Walker Creek Ranch and, in response to this recommendation, has closed the facility through April at least. Sadly, our sixth graders will not be going to Walker Creek later this month as scheduled.
A few moments ago, we learned that Sonoma County Farm Bureau has decided to postpone the 2020 Ag Days field trip amidst concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID- 19). Unfortunately, our third graders will not be going on that trip next week.
Sonoma County school districts are looking into all upcoming field trips to determine those that could pose a risk due to proximity to large crowds and determining which should be cancelled in an abundance of caution.
This morning, the Press Democrat released an article about Keysight Technologies, one of the largest employers in Santa Rosa, closing to clean their facility as a result of one of their employees having flu-like symptoms. Those symptoms are similar to the symptoms of COVID-19, and this employee was a passenger on the same cruise ship that has had confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its passengers (the Grand Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico in February).
We know some of our families are employed by Keysight and your concern about COVID-19 may be heightened by this news.
Here is what we do know at this time:
· Sonoma County Department of Health Services, the lead agency in our county with regard to this virus, assured us at a meeting yesterday that our schools are considered “low risk” for virus exposure.
· The Department of Public Health has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 that affect any of the students or staff in Bennett Valley.
· 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 action to take regarding our schools. If a staff member or student is found with a confirmed case, the Department of Health Services, depending on the circumstances and if necessary to prevent the spread, can shut a school down for 2 weeks and request that the staff, students and families not gather during that time to make sure the quarantine is effective. While we hope this doesn't happen, to be prepared, districts will be developing plans to provide educational continuity.
· The Department of Health Services advises contacting your doctor if you have been exposed directly to someone who was on the cruise or if you have traveled from impacted cities or countries AND have flu-like symptoms including a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. For more information: https://socoemergency.org/emergency/coronavirus/
Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and staff, and we take this responsibility seriously and will follow the lead of the Department of Health Services public health experts.
The strength of our community has been greatly tested in the last few years. Once again, I am reminded of how it takes all of us to ensure that our students are provided a quality educational program under some of the most difficult of circumstances. This is accomplished because we do it together. Many thanks to our amazing teachers, principals, and support staff! Thank you for your support!
Sue Field, Ed.D.