Princeton Public Schools have taken measures to avoid coronavirus


Concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, the Princeton Public Schools maintenance staff is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of germs, Princeton Public Schools officials said.

In a March 6 letter to school district families, Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane wrote that the district is in contact with state and local health agencies regarding the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

In the letter, Cochrane also shared some of the measures that the school district has put into place.

Custodians are cleaning door handles, railings and other frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis, Cochrane said.

Computer keyboards are being cleaned more frequently, and the interior of the buses are being cleaned on a regular basis, he said.

Each school and the transportation department received a special electrostatic sprayer that covers a wide area with a mild disinfectant. The sprayers were used earlier this year to successfully minimize incidences of the flu in two school buildings, Cochrane said.

“Not only does it kill corona and other viruses on the surface, but its mist surrounds the surfaces, making it more effective,” the superintendent said.

In addition, school nurses have been teaching elementary school students about basic precautions such as washing their hands frequently and not touching anywhere above their neck – eyes, nose and mouth, he said.

At the John Witherspoon Middle School and Princeton High School, health teachers are giving additional lessons on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Students are being encouraged to avoid shaking hands and to substitute fist bumps, elbow bumps, waves and bows to greet one another. Social distancing will help to prevent the spread of any virus, Cochrane said.

“Our local health officials will advise us if other forms of limiting contact need to be implemented, but at this point, we can proceed with extracurricular activities, assemblies and other gatherings,” he said.

If students or staff do feel sick and report to the school nurse’s office, they will be given a mask if they have a cough or fever or are having difficulty breathing, Cochrane said. Those are symptoms of COVID-19.

Students will be sent home if their temperature exceeds 100 degrees F., in line with New Jersey Department of Health guidelines, he said. Students and staff should not return to school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications.

“We ask parents and guardians to follow the same guidance and not enter school buildings if they are sick. It will help to prevent the spread of all illnesses to the school community,” he said.

Attendance rates are being monitored across all of the schools.

Individuals and families who have visited China or other high-risk locations for the coronavirus and who may have been exposed to it are being asked to self-quarantine, Cochrane said.

Italy, Iran and South Korea have been added to the list of countries with widespread contagion, he said. Families should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website about foreign travel, especially if they are planning future trips – including trips during spring break.

Despite all of those measures, if it becomes necessary to close the schools for an extended period of time, the school district is preparing for remote instruction via the Power School Learning platform, Cochrane said.

Acknowledging that not all families have access to computer or internet service at home, Cochrane said the school district is working to help those families to ensure students can participate in digital learning.