Dear Oakland Unified Community,
We write today with another update about the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). This morning we participated in a regional call with the Alameda County Public Health Officer, the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) and leaders of several Bay Area school districts. Bulleted below are the most recent developments related to COVID-19:
- Two cases of coronavirus have been identified in Alameda County.
- Health officials in Alameda County declared a public health emergency. (This declaration helps to mobilize county resources, response, outreach and communications.)
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sent out guidelines for K-12 schools across the country.
- Aspire Monarch Academy, a charter school in Oakland, elected to take a conservative approach and close school through the end of the week to assess the risk presented by a staff member with potential, not confirmed, exposure to the coronavirus.
Although there is no way to predict how COVID-19 will spread in Alameda County, we should assume that there will be more cases and take preventive action. Our schools can play an important role in slowing the spread of diseases and ensuring a safe, healthy learning environment for our students.
Across the District, we are continuing to do the following:
- Encourage frequent hand-washing and best-practice hygiene/protection throughout the school day; and especially before and after recess, before and after lunch, and before and after snacks;
- Encourage sick students and staff to stay home;
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our school environments, paying special attention to high traffic surfaces, including door knobs, water fountains, counters, chromebooks, etc.
- Work with our Special Education Department to identify sensitive student populations and students with compromised immune function who might benefit from proactive home instruction earlier than other students.
Depending on local developments and public health recommendations, we may in the future need to take the following actions:
- Limit or cancel large gatherings and extracurricular activities including, sports, and clubs;
- Cancel assemblies and field trips. (At this point, the Alameda County Public Health Department and ACOE are NOT recommending this action, but may make that recommendation in the near future.)
- Temporarily close a school. This situation continues to evolve and we want to assure you that we are planning for several contingencies. Currently, health officials are recommending temporary closure of a school for at least two weeks ONLY after a confirmed diagnosis is made known. Given this possibility, we are exploring how we might be able to implement distance learning to prevent disruptions to educational programs for our students.
On behalf of District leaders and our OUSD Health Services Team, we thank you for your patience and for taking proactive steps to keep sick students home. We understand that this situation can cause disruptions to normal routines, but we are grateful for your understanding and partnership.
To the extent we receive new information that leads us to urgent action, we will notify you via the usual channels as soon as possible: robocall, email, website (www.ousd.org/coronavirus) and social media. Please share your feedback with this very brief survey.
The OUSD Communications Team
A Few Helpful Tips:
- Please do remind students to wash their hands often, cough and sneeze into their elbow or a tissue (and then throw it away!), and avoid touching their faces.
- Encourage everyone to, “Wave and Say Hello” when greeting one another to help minimize unnecessary skin-to-skin contact including handshakes, fist bumps, high fives, or elbow bumps.
- If your student is sick, please keep him/her at home. Please note, however, that we are not currently excusing absences for healthy students being kept home to avoid getting sick.
- Handwashing Technique – DK-5th Grade, 6th Grade-Adult
- Cough and Sneeze Etiquette – Cover Your Mouth When You Cough Song or The Right Way to Cover Your Mouth
- The CDC has excellent resources on how best to talk to students about the importance of handwashing (https://www.cdc.gov/
- You can find tips on talking to children about the virus in the New York Times article “How to Talk to Kids about Coronavirus” (https://parenting.nytimes.
com/childrens-health/ coronavirus-kids-talk) and the Child Mind Institute’s article “Talking to Kids about Coronavirus” (https://childmind.org/ article/talking-to-kids-about- the-coronavirus/).
- Our Coronavirus web page also has basic information about the virus, staying healthy, and latest updates: (http://www.ousd.org/