As you know, there has been much discussion about the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) and the State of Minnesota is actively preparing for a potential outbreak. While there are no human cases confirmed in the state as of yet, Northfield Public Schools is following the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health and other state agencies. We are also receiving updates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure our school district has the latest information. Our students’ health and safety is a top priority. I participated in a statewide call for superintendents this morning with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health. There are now scheduled weekly calls to provide us with updates about the situation.
The District has a pandemic flu preparation component of our crisis plan. We are currently reviewing it and preparing to implement it, if necessary. At this stage, this plan includes reinforcing basic good health practices with students and staff. It also focuses on making sure the district has adequate supplies for handwashing and preventative cleaning.
The District employs strategic disinfectant procedures during the influenza season. The same cleaning strategies that we use to limit influenza transmission are effective in combatting COVID-19. These include frequent disinfecting of surfaces and spray/mist sanitizer machines that we can use to quickly and safely sanitize classrooms on a regular schedule.
The Minnesota Department of Health indicates that following these basic good health practices is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family:
- Consider getting a seasonal flu shot. It’s not too late!
- Make sure to cover coughs and sneezes.
- Use your own water bottle – do not share!
- Encourage frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Remind your student and model frequent handwashing in your home and workplace.
- Keep children home from school until fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
While the immediate threat to our community is small, now is a good time for all of us to review plans and prepare for any potential disruptions to our routines. Please contact me directly with any questions about the school district’s preparation for COVID-19.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools