COVID-19 Update March 12

Limestone Learning Foundation
COVID-19 Update March 12
Posted on 03/12/2020
Image of COVID-19 graphic

Dear Limestone Families,

I am writing to share current information about how the Board and our local public health authorities are dealing with the COVID-19 situation. Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our district, I know that we all have growing concerns about the health and safety of our families and friends. Please be assured that the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority.

We are working on the guidance of public health professionals who are experts in protecting the community during disease outbreaks. Together, we are taking steps to ensure we are well prepared should COVID-19 spread in our community.

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. Symptoms include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Coronaviruses are spread mainly from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze,
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, and
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

What you can do:

There is no vaccine, nor antiviral available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus. There are, however, everyday actions you can take to lower your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 infection, which include:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands;
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs;
    • immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterward;
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices, and doorknobs; and
  • stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

What we are doing:

KFL&A Public Health has been collaborating with partners at all levels of government, our acute care and community health-care providers and our area school boards to prepare for local cases.

Currently, public health officials recommend that schools take standard respiratory illness precautions, the same precautions that are recommended every year during cold and influenza season. At present, school closures are not recommended for the prevention of COVID-19.

Schools and sites in Limestone are taking the following steps to help prevent the spread of infection:

  • increased environmental cleaning that sanitizes and disinfects surfaces daily with particular attention to high-touch surfaces such as desks, doorknobs and light switches;
  • increased supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all schools;
  • additional education to school population regarding infection control strategies such as importance of hand hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette (cover your cough); and
  • cancellation of international student trips over the Mark Break period as a precaution.

March Break Travel:

We know many families will be travelling over the March Break, and I am sharing these precautions from public health so you can protect yourself and your family. If you plan to travel, during the March Break, check for Travel Health Notices on the Government of Canada website to learn if you need to use special precautions, or avoid non-essential travel.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is now recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel. If you return from travel outside of Canada after the March Break, monitor yourself for symptoms (fever, cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after returning. PHAC is also advising anyone who travelled and who has COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and self-isolate( which means stay in a separate room or keep a two-metre distance), and call your health-care provider, KFL&A Public Health 613-549-1232 or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and you need to consider, when travelling, that current requirements by the Canadian government for returning travelers could change. You should be prepared for the potential recommendation to self-isolate and stay home for 14 days upon returning from any travel outside Canada.

Prepare, don’t panic:

We ask everyone to help reinforce hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. We also recommend you follow the advice of public health, and take measures to ensure you are prepared to stay at home should you or a family member be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Parents/guardians and other caregivers are a major source of comfort and reassurance to children during heightened times of stress or concern. We recommend you find a balance between effectively preparing versus being consumed with worry or panic.

How to stay informed:

In any potential crisis, rumors and misinformation are quickly circulated causing unnecessary panic. We are sharing this information with you, not to cause panic, but to reassure you that we are prepared to deal with a potential outbreak in our school community. We encourage you to stay informed by checking these sources often:

Over the next few days, you will see KFL&A Public Health launch an awareness campaign to help share much of this same information. We will post new developments as they become available, and we will inform you directly if we learn of a confirmed COVID-19 case in our schools.

We understand this may be a stressful time for many, and that the situation is changing daily, but please know our school board is prepared. We share our actions with you to reassure you that we have taken precautions to ensure we can deal with a possible outbreak. Every day, we work together to keep students and staff safe, and we appreciate your continued support and understanding.

Debra Rantz,
Director of Education

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.