Lewis County Schools preparing for COVID-19

School Superintendent Jamie Weddington is sending this letter home with students today.

Lewis County Schools Superintendent Jamie Weddington is sending a letter home today (3/12/2020) with students in hopes of answering some questions surrounding the COVID-19 issue as it pertains to the local school district.

In the letter, Weddington outlines proactive steps being taken by the district and describes efforts that will be implemented locally.

He also describes recommendations to help curb the spread of the virus (and other illnesses).

Even though flu has been an important health issue across the state in recent weeks, Weddington says the “district wide attendance is ranging a little lower than the normal 94-95% range. With attendance actually being on a steady increase in most schools over the last several days.”

Lewis County Schools will have a scheduled day off Friday and Weddington suggests taking a few extra precautionary steps over the long weekend aimed at helping to slow the spread of the virus.

“ . . . We recommend you take the extended weekend to wash all backpacks and coats, sanitize all educational materials, and most importantly talk with your child about proper hygiene and regular hand washing,” he states in the letter.

Weddington said five NTI packets will be sent home today and additional packets will be prepared should a longer school closure be necessary.

“The Governor has asked all school superintendents across the Commonwealth to have their districts prepare to close with a 72 hour notice from his office. Today, all students should have received NTI packets#6-10. Additionally, staff will be working on 10 additional NTI packets for use in the event of a lengthy school cancellation due to COVID-19 virus,” he wrote.

Weddington said he urges everyone to continue to monitor the news for official updates on the spread of the virus and to remember to follow hand washing and disinfecting recommendations.

This is the full text of Weddington’s letter:

Dear Lewis County Staff, Parents, and Guardians,

A growing concern across our state and country is the spread and associated health risks of the Corona Virus (COVID-19). There are many questions that have been raised as it relates to schools within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The purpose of this letter is to try and answer a few of those questions.

What proactive steps has the school system taken to prepare for COVID-19?
Lewis County Schools has already taken some proactive measures and has planned some additional steps to help limit the potential exposure of our students and staff to this virus. Below is a list of some of those measures:
• Ongoing communication with local and state health officials.
• Our school custodians and staff have increased their cleaning and disinfectant efforts throughout the school.
• Additional custodial staff will be scheduled to further deep clean the buildings every Friday for the next several weeks.
• We have been working to ensure that each classroom and common area has access to hand sanitizer. We have been discussing proper hand washing techniques through information provided by the Lewis County Health Department. Students will be given additional opportunity and encouraged to wash their hands several times throughout the day.
• Extra time is being added, as needed, to restroom breaks and breakfast/lunch breaks to ensure proper handwashing.
• The use of plastic forks, spoons, and trays for breakfast and lunch.
• Additional cleaning supplies were purchased several weeks ago to ensure an adequate amount of supplies are on hand.
• We are working with our cleaning supply companies to ensure that their products are effective against the COVID-19 virus.

What is biggest deterrent to the spread of COVID-19?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends these actions to prevent any infection of a respiratory virus, which includes:

• The most important prevention is to wash your hands, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your elbow- not your hand.
• Stay home if you have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea until you are symptom free for 24 hours.
• Wash your hands immediately when returning home from school, work, or family outings
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• AGAIN, wash your hands, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times per day.

Furthermore, we recommend you take the extended weekend to wash all backpacks and coats, sanitize all educational materials, and most importantly talk with your child about proper hygiene and regular hand washing.

Why are schools still open if the Governor has recommended the closure of churches and nursing homes?
Information gathered by the CDC indicated that the most susceptible people are adults over 60 and individuals with compromised immune systems. Further, the passage of the virus is greatly increased in large group, confined settings. Churches and nursing homes both provide for larger groups of older people to be in a confined area thus the recommendation to restrict some of those activities. According to Governor Beshear and his medical advisors, this outbreak has a low risk to children who have healthy immune systems.

What has the districts attendance percentage been?
Recently, our district wide attendance is ranging a little lower than the normal 94-95% range. With attendance actually being on a steady increase in most schools over the last several days.

Will the school system stay on regular schedule?
The Governor has asked all school superintendents across the Commonwealth to have their districts prepare to close with a 72 hour notice from his office. Today, all students should have received NTI packets#6-10. Additionally, staff will be working on 10 additional NTI packets for use in the event of a lengthy school cancellation due to COVID-19 virus. If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in our community, a decision will be made on if and when to close school after consulting with medical professionals and state officials. All of the Kentucky confirmed cases are individuals ranging in age from 27 to 79. The closing of school is a very difficult decision because so many of our students need the meals, safety, and caring environment that our schools provide on a daily basis. Additionally, a lengthy school closure often leads to distress for our working families finding appropriate child care. These concerns were echoed by superintendents across the Commonwealth Wednesday during a joint conference call with Governor Beshear. If Governor Beshear recommends state wide school closure, our school district will follow his recommendation. Please understand that these decisions are not made without careful consideration to all of those factors.

Where can I find out more information about COVID-19?
More information on the coronavirus is available at:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/
• The Cabinet for Health and Family Services Coronavirus Website: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
• State of Kentucky informational website: www.kycovid19.ky.gov
• State of Kentucky COVID19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 606-796-2811, the Lewis County Health Department at 606-796-2632 or your local health care provider.

Thank you,

Jamie Weddington, Superintendent
Lewis County Schools

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Click HERE for a printable version of the letter.

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