March 9, 2020 - Coronavirus Update
We understand that schools have an important role to play in promoting public health and in preventing the spread of disease in the local community. The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to change daily in the U.S. and abroad and, as the level of concern increases with more U.S. cases identified, we are also intensifying our work in the AAPS to emphasize daily health practices and to prepare for possible next steps to keep our students, staff, and families safe.
At this time, Monday, March 9th, the Washtenaw County Health Department reports no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our community. Yet, we continue to prepare for a more significant phase of the coronavirus situation in Michigan.
The Ann Arbor Public Schools is in continuous, close contact with the WCHD to prepare for timing and steps involved in any potential activity-related, school or district closures. We will alert students, staff, and parents if we receive health department direction related to a COVID-19 case connected to the AAPS.
What AAPS has already done:
- Promoted the practice of daily habits to promote health by all individuals in the AAPS, including frequent handwashing and remaining home when experiencing symptoms.
- Established an AAPS Coronavirus Task Force to plan for next steps in addressing coronavirus in our school community.
- Canceled school-sponsored international travel for March and April.
- Created a coronavirus update webpage on the Ann Arbor Public Schools website with parent resources, FAQs, and updates.https://www.a2schools.org/COVID-19.
- Clarified expectations for all people entering AAPS buildings impacted by a CDC Travel Advisory. In the AAPS, we will consistently follow WCHD and CDC advisement and will expect all who enter our buildings to be in compliance with those expectations. The district will err on the side of caution in enforcing these expectations to protect students, staff, and families.
- Intensified cleaning protocols for school facilities and buses.
Continued AAPS efforts:
- Closely monitor the local disease situation regarding COVID-19, including daily communication with the WCHD.
- Monitor daily attendance data for the emergence of illness patterns within and across schools.
- Remind students, staff, and all who visit our buildings to regularly wash their hands.
- These reminders are delivered through information posted in the schools and via principals and teachers.
- Remind everyone, including staff and volunteers, to remain home if they are sick.
- Remain sensitive to biases that may be associated with the virus. It’s important to remember that this virus can affect anyone. All members of our school community have the right to be safe, valued, and respected.
- Prepare for potential cancellation of events that attract large crowds and potential school closures in consultation with WCHD and other public health experts.
- Immediately add an additional nurse position in the AAPS, dedicated to assist AAPS Nursing and Health team with coronavirus efforts.
What families and staff can do now at home and in school:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces.
- All must remain home when symptoms are present and avoid close contact with any individuals who are sick.
- Consult with a health care provider regarding additional precautions for medically fragile and immune compromised individuals.
The health and safety of students and staff are always the top priority in the AAPS. As the local COVID-19 situation evolves, Ann Arbor Public Schools will coordinate with WCHD officials about potential event protocols and school closing and reopening decisions. At this time, the district is clarifying and confirming processes to ensure preparedness should any school or district closure become necessary.
During this challenging time, we are reminded of our core AAPS values of equity and inclusion. As adults, we can model ways to avoid making assumptions about members of our school community. To minimize anxiety among our students, we can also practice measured responses to uncertainty, while at the same time taking practical steps to prepare and plan for a time when the coronavirus situation impacts us directly here in Ann Arbor. Please visit the parent resource page for tips on speaking with your children or teens about coronavirus.
As an AAPS school community, it is our shared responsibility to do all that we can to protect the health of our students, staff and everyone in our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable. We will continue to publish updates to the community, and you can find more information including links to traveling and self-quarantine, how to speak with your children about the coronavirus and CDC and Washtenaw County Public Health updates on the AAPS website https://www.a2schools.org/COVID-19.
Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Jenna Bacolor, MPH, LMSW
AAPS, Executive Director, Student and School Health