Lawrence schools determined to prevent spread of coronavirus

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Concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, Lawrence Township Public Schools maintenance staff members are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of germs, according to school district officials.

In a March 6 letter to Lawrence Township public school students and their families, Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun wrote that “as always, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority.”

Although there have been two cases that tested positive for coronavirus in New Jersey, there are no known cases “in our area,” he said.

Kasun said that parents need to know that “first and foremost,” all of the district’s actions are being guided by local, state and federal health authorities, who are the experts in keeping the communities safe from public health threats.

“We are taking extra precautions when cleaning our facilities to limit the spread of germs. Commonly touched areas are being given special attention,” Kasun said.

The district also is developing contingency plans so it will be ready to respond if there is widespread illness and it causes greater impacts, such as school closure, he said.

Although there is no talk of closing the school district at this time, nevertheless administrators are meeting to plan for ways to continue in the case of school closures, Kasun said.

The New Jersey Department of Education has offered some guidelines on what home instruction would count toward the 180-day attendance requirement during a public health-related school district closure, Kasun said. The guidelines, however, are vague.

Kasun said that although the disease appears to have originated in China, it is not linked to any race, ethnicity or nationality. A student’s or staff member’s risk of illness should not be based on any of those factors, he said.

Families that are traveling outside of the United States should contact the school nurse when they arrive home so they may discuss the child’s re-entry into the school district, Kasun said.

Kasun said that in the meantime, everyone should follow the same guidelines that apply to other respiratory illnesses. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick, and stay at home if you are sick, he said. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and toss the tissue. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

“It is natural to feel apprehensive when facing a challenge like this one,” Kasun said. “We understand that you are concerned and encourage you to be well informed.”