Featured image of article: Important Message from Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders

Important Message from Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders

I hope that you have had a restful and relaxing week.  I want to thank the many parents who have reached out through email or phone to inquire about the District’s plans related to the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. 

As I begin this letter, I want to remind our community that there are currently no confirmed cases of the virus in New Hampshire.  With that said, I recognize that many parents, teachers, staff, and students are concerned about the status of the current outbreak in other parts of the world and how that may impact our schools and community.

This is particularly true as we return from school vacation. We have had no ConVal School District sponsored travel, either within the United States or outside of it. However, we know that some families and students do travel during the break. 

While the information that we have at the writing of this letter indicates that the virus is less likely to impact our students’ health than other community members, we believe that we have a responsibility to our entire community to inform them about our current practices, our next steps, and our long-term plans in the unlikely case of a community outbreak of COVID-19.  

Let me begin by reassuring you that our staff and school nurses have been carefully watching the situation related to COVID-19.  ConVal District nurses have received information and had the opportunity to participate in a webinar early in the outbreak to become informed about the presenting symptoms and the related health issues.

We have continued to practice our heightened cleaning and disinfecting that we do regularly during the flu season.  This includes, but is not limited to, the regular wiping down of surfaces and computer keyboards, the consistent cleaning of door handles, the daily cleaning of classrooms and bathrooms, as well as ongoing instruction of students to wash their hands, use tissues, avoid touching face, eyes, and nose, and practice good sneezing and coughing habits (i.e. sneezing or coughing into your sleeve and then wiping your nose and washing your hands). All of these practices will continue, and we will be adding suggested steps from the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control that we recently received.

Following my direct conversations yesterday with both the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I received information on what the best next steps would be for schools.

The NH Division of Public Health and the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control has created guidance that we will be implementing. As always, we ask that if your student has a fever that you keep them home from school. As with all illnesses, if you keep your student home because they have a fever and respiratory symptoms, the missed school days will be considered excused absences.  

The District will continue tracking information regarding absences and the reasons for these absences and, if requested, may be sharing symptomatic information with healthcare officials.  If a student comes to the nurse with a fever or respiratory symptoms, they will be instructed to wear a face mask until they are able to be picked up.  Nurses will also inquire about students’ recent travel.

Additionally, nurses will be taking precautions to guard against potential exposure and will be contacting parents of students who present with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to be taken home. Symptoms according to the CDC include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

On Monday morning, I will be meeting with all administrators to discuss plans in the unlikely case of a large community outbreak of COVID-19.  This will include planning for educating students who are not in school because of their exposure to COVID-19 and planning for the highly unlikely case of school closure.

As the situation continues to develop, we will communicate with you to let you know of additional steps and plans. For the most up-to-date information regarding the coronavirus, you can visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) website, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, or the World Health Organization (WHO) website

In the meantime, if you have specific questions do not hesitate to reach out through email ksaunders@conval.edu or by phone (603) 924-3336 ext. 2028.