Coronavirus Update - February 28, 2020

The safety of our students and staff is a top priority in Hillsborough Township and preparedness is an important aspect to ensure that safety.  As you may be aware, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread throughout China and to 31 other countries, including the United States. 

I am writing to provide you with an update on recent developments, and to follow up on an earlier communication about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) posted on our website on February 7, 2020. While there are approximately 60 cases in the United States and no confirmed cases in New Jersey, we would like to communicate some important information with our school community to assure you that we are aware of the issue and planning accordingly. 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are directing the public to reach out to school districts for information, we have not received any new guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education or the Department of Health.   

The Hillsborough Township School District is following the advice of the New Jersey Department of Education, as well as state and local health departments.  The New Jersey Department of Health is monitoring information received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is working closely with our county health department to monitor the situation and is preparing guidance documents for healthcare professionals.  Our school nurses have received up-to-date information from the National Association of School Nurses on how to lead health promotion and disease prevention efforts during this time. Not surprisingly, much of this information is very similar to other causes of respiratory illness, including the flu. 

Some steps parents should take to help reduce the spread of illness include reinforcing the importance of frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or coughing or sneezing into the elbow.  Additionally, it is even more important to keep your child(ren) home from school if they are sick. If you or members of your family have recently visited those parts of the world identified as encountering higher rates of infection (China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, France, Iran, Hong Kong, etc.) and are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness, please reach out to the local health department as well as your school nurse, and seek immediate medical attention.  

In Hillsborough, everyone, including building-based administrators, school nurses, and our maintenance and custodial staff are working together to ensure that our rigorous cleaning routine remains intact; this includes wiping desks and other surface areas with disinfectant on a regular basis and frequently changing garbage bags.  Absences continue to be monitored and appropriate school-based precautions are in place.   

The Department of Health does not recommend school closure for outbreaks of infectious disease.  Moreover, the Department of Education will not allow us to close school as a preventative measure and conduct school online in order to comply with the 180-day school year requirement. As such, we will continue to comply with directives from the state and local health agencies and remain vigilant in our disinfecting practices to minimize the spread of infectious disease.

Currently, district administrators are working on plans for how we may support students and maintain instruction in the event of a district-wide, long-term closure.  We will continue to provide excellent and appropriate educational opportunities for children and will remain focused in this endeavor. Should your child(ren) become upset or display increased anxiety or concern about these current events, please encourage him/her to seek the assistance of a trusted adult, including the school counselor.  

Again, please take a look at our previous communication and peruse the resources available on COVID-19 at the CDC Website.  Additional information will be communicated as it is received.  

Please know that the safety of our students and staff remain at the forefront of any decision that is made.

Lisa M. Antunes, Ed.D.


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