Nothing is more important than the health, safety and well-being of our members and the people we serve. As you know, several school districts around New York State have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. I want you to know that your union is working with the district to make sure you have a safe and healthy workplace, that you are provided with critical and timely information, and that your rights are protected in the event the outbreak impacts our work. To this end, we have been in close and regular contact with the District officials, and will continue to do so until this is behind us. This includes working to ensure the District is following the recommended prevention and preparedness protocols, and that all the necessary emergency plans are in place. As an immediate step, we are working to encourage the district to take basic precautionary steps, including:
- Establishing a separate room or area at each school, close to the nurse's office, for use by nursing staff specifically for students who present with a cough and/or fever, which are primary symptoms of both flu and COVID-19;
- Providing additional staff to assist with coverage of the nurse's offices and custodial staff to aid with cleaning where needed;
- Conducting additional cleaning and use of disinfectants on hard surfaces at all schools;
- Ensuring soap dispensers and towel dispensers in all restrooms throughout the district are closely monitored so they do not become empty;
- Scheduling additional cleaning of school buses to take place in accordance with new guidelines. In addition to this, your statewide union has created a resource page to help you find critical information to protect yourself, your families and the students in your care.
You can find that information here. Finally, each of us has an important role to play in preventing the spread of germs:
- Stay home, and keep your children at home when you or they are sick. This includes symptoms such as fever, cough/difficulty breathing and/or intestinal problems. Keep them home until their temperature is below 100 degrees for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Frequently wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cough/sneeze into your sleeve (elbow) or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The best strategy is to stay informed, follow basic precautions and reach out to your health care provider if you have concerns regarding the health of your family.
Thank you for everything you do.