March 4 2020

Burlington Superintendent Pens Letter on Coronavirus Monitoring and Preparation


Amidst the steady drumbeat of news about new cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Burlington’s Superintendent of Schools is assuring parents and the public that the School Department is monitoring the situation. 


“As the news and information about the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 continues to develop, you may have questions about our schools,” Superintendent Eric Conti said in a letter to parents. “We are working closely with the Burlington Board of Health to monitor this situation and stay up-to-date with state and federal guidance.”


Conti said the department is also coordinating with other elements in town to come up with plans in case someone is diagnosed with the virus in the school system. 


“In addition, the School Department took part in a meeting today with various departments from the town to outline plans that would be implemented should we get a confirmation that the virus has been diagnosed in a student or staff member,” he said. 


Conti suggested the public review the Burlington Board of Health’s Coronavirus Information page which will continue to provide local updates. In addition, the state has also developed a webpage for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Information on Novel Coronavirus


“We will continue to carefully monitor information from the US Center for Disease Control, as well as advisories from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health,” Conti said. 


He also said the department just received this notification from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 


“In addition, we are in daily contact with the Board of Health regarding absences due to illness and whether we have any confirmed cases of Coronavirus from a student or staff member” Conti explained. “If we have a confirmed case within our schools, we would notify families and let them know about any added interventions that would be undertaken.” 


The Board of Health and the CDC say residents should continue to take the same precautions they use to reduce the risk of catching other respiratory illnesses, such as the seasonal flu: 


- Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds of scrubbing) or use alcohol-based hand cleaners (cover all surfaces and rub until dry). Hand Washing Etiquette Education


- Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.


- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which accelerates the spread of infections. 


- Avoid close contact with others who are sick. 


- If you are sick, seek health care, and avoid contact with others, including large social gatherings, meetings, and events. 


- If you are keeping your child home because of an illness, please inform your school nurse of the symptoms. 


“Nurses are closely monitoring symptoms and reminding parents to keep students home when ill,” Conti said. “As a reminder, here are our Illness Guidelines on when to keep your children home sick. Additionally, the Health Services Department will follow all guidelines on how to handle any ill students or staff as directed by the Board of Health. 


Superintendent Conti added that the department is ensuring the schools are clean. 


“We are continuing to thoroughly clean our schools and we also took the opportunity and did an extra thorough cleaning over the February school vacation week,” he said.


The department has also taken the step of cancelling the High School Foreign Exchange program that would have had Burlington families hosting students from Italy, a country with a high number of Coronavirus cases. 


“Please rest assured that we are monitoring the Coronavirus concern very closely and staying informed of the latest information from public health authorities,” Conti concluded. “We are following all recommended guidelines to ensure the safety of our students and staff. We will continue to share new information with you, as necessary, about this rapidly evolving situation.”


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