Coronavirus (COVID-19) Message - Butterfield-Odin Schools
Superintendent Steve Thomas
As you know, we are in the beginning stages of a World-wide epidemic that must be taken seriously and it will be by Butterfield-Odin Schools. At this time Minnesota has escaped the illness, but it will almost surely cross our borders soon. I have been in contact with the MN Department of Health (MDH) and the Department of Education (MDE) and was part of a State-wide Conference Call they recently conducted. I will update this Message as new, relevant information arrives.
- Most important key message from the Conference Call is the following:
- Focus on the basics of disease prevention:
- Frequent handwashing
- Cover coughs and sneezes - inner elbow
- Stay home when sick – certainly with fever, severe cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- General Update as of March 2, 2020:
- COVID-19 coronavirus is a new pathogen that emerged last December in China and has rapidly progressed.
- There are many confirmed cases worldwide, a few dozen in the US and none in Minnesota. Six people have died from the disease in Washington State as of today.
- There are new cases presenting without the ability to trace the source of the infection.
- This has led to some travel advisories and presidential travel restrictions.
- Information is coming in rapidly, so more is being learned frequently.
- The highest risk groups are older people, and those with compromised immune systems — at this point not children.
- Potential impact:
- Students and community members returning from impacted countries
- People effected by known cases
- The CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, determines investigation criteria.
- Anyone under investigation or infected (confirmed cases) — MDH will communicate any follow up with those individuals.
- There are no recommendations at this time from either MDH or MDE to close schools or postpone programs. If any recommendations occur, they will be local in nature and not state- or country-wide.
- Student or Community Members Planning Trips Abroad: watch CDC travel advisories.
- Regarding prevention for students who are medically fragile: There is no guidance at this point, other than the precautions listed. However, the CDC will likely have this information in their guidance for schools and I will provide it as soon as I hear.
- Clean environments are important, but the virus does not live long outside the human body. Washing hands very well is strongly encouraged. Wearing masks is not, at this point.
- MDE is considering the remote possibility of the need for e-learning and how district plans (for weather) will be used for potential school closure.
- MDE is also considering the impact of this situation on required number of days, hours for school year and graduation.
As I mentioned above, I will update this message as soon as I get new information!