HARTFORD, Conn. — The following is from Superintendent Tom Moore:
I am writing tonight to share with you that I and the members of my leadership team continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, as more cases are confirmed in the United States and in other countries. As you know, based on the news conferences held by both the governor and the president yesterday, this is a rapidly developing and changing situation affecting many countries. Right now, there are no confirmed cases in West Hartford, nor in the state of Connecticut.
We believe that now is the best time to prepare for a wide variety of contingencies. This week I have been in touch with our town leadership, the West Hartford Bloomfield Public Health District, our legislators, and officials at the state Department of Education as we plan our next steps. Today, I met with all of our principals and updated them on our current situation and future planning. Right now, we are advising all teachers and our families to continue operating as we do during any flu season. If you are sick, please stay home; maybe instead of shaking hands we can just wave “hi” to each other; and please WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY. This is the best way to stay healthy no matter what germs are going around. We also have our custodians on deep cleaning and wipe downs of surfaces at night to stop the spread of flu. In fact, the good news is that over the last couple of weeks we have seen a decline in absences from what has been a pretty typical flu season.
With the risk of a pandemic, we know we must do more. Information from the West Hartford Bloomfield Health District, which is participating in daily briefings with the Center for Disease Control and Connecticut Department of Public Health, can be found on the town’s website, http://www.westhartfordct.gov/health. The Connecticut Department of Public Health website also has a comprehensive set of resources at https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Public-Health-Preparedness/Main-Page/2019-Novel-Coronavirus. As an educator, I believe deeply in the need for research and facts, and I bristle at those who choose to spread rumors, or things that they have “heard”. While now is the time for preparation, it is not the time for panic.
There are still decisions to be made, some sooner than others. We do have two overseas trips planned for high school students in April, and we are in current negotiations with those tour operators to try and protect the investments made by families. More information will be shared with those students and families next week, when we have more information from the tour companies. We have ordered more cleaning supplies that will be available not just for our custodial staff but to all staff to help wipe down surfaces at different times during the day. We also keep track of all absences, and visits to our nurses to track any spikes or dips in illnesses.
I will do my best to keep you informed in the coming days and weeks, and hopefully this will just be a long preparation drill that is not put into action. Please monitor your children for any anxiety about the topic, and talk to them if they have questions. Suggestions for how to talk to your children can be found here https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4886.pdf. Our first priority, as always, is the health and safety of our children, and our community.