February 26, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The District has received a number of emails voicing concern about the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (CoVid-19) and the recent significant spread outside of China. Some concerns have been expressed about Scarsdale families who may have traveled internationally over the February break and safety issues around students returning to school. It is important to note that, as a public school system, we cannot share information regarding individual students/families with the broader school community. As a District, we are operating under the specific guidance (linked here) given to us by the State Departments of Health and Education. This guidance was issued on February 5th, and it is still in effect. Additionally, we are in contact with the Westchester County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Sherlita Amler, who has advised us to continue to follow State guidance. We also reviewed our nursing procedures with the Commissioner, and she feels they are appropriate for the current situation. The District has and will continue to reach out to relevant agencies and will comply with recommendations offered (and certainly any directives that are issued).
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Homeland Security are applying travel restrictions and quarantines, as appropriate, for people traveling internationally. Additionally, the local county health departments are charged with enforcing any restrictions placed on returning travelers or persons under investigation. The school does not and cannot impose restrictions on residents beyond those enforced by the government. The CDC has provided guidelines for travelers (linked here), and we ask anyone traveling or returning to the country to follow all relevant recommendations/directives.
We are monitoring the situation closely and are in contact with our school physician. Schools have been and will continue to follow practices enacted during every flu season, including good hygiene practices, frequent handwashing, reminders to avoid sharing food and drinks, and enhanced cleaning of surfaces. Further, we are and will continue to be vigilant about having students with symptoms screened by our nurses (which includes asking about travel), and taking the appropriate next steps.
We understand that there has been social media and interpersonal communication around student(s) which may be wrong or bereft of context, the District takes the health of our students very seriously. The District agrees with the CDC assessment that at this time there is a low health risk to the general public, and we have no reason to believe that there is an increased risk for our students.
In a recent interview, a CDC official suggested calling local schools to ask how they are preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak. As you can see from the steps outlined above the District is coordinating with relevant agencies, responding to parent concerns, enacting recommended procedures, and continuously monitoring changes.
Currently, there are no confirmed cases in New York, but it is likely that the disease will spread. The District will work in conjunction with the Department of Health, if further preventative measures are recommended, up to and including the closing of school. If school closing is deemed necessary, the community will be informed through our phone, email, and text systems similar to other emergencies. While we realize that closing our schools would be very disruptive, the District places the health and safety of students, staff, and families ahead of all other academic concerns. We remain optimistic that the situation will remain under control and additional measures will not be necessary. We also thank you for your concern and partnership.
Eric K. Rauschenbach
Director of Special Education and Student Services
Additional Resources on the Coronavirus outbreak: