Covid-19 Update for Reading Public Schools

Reading, MA — Below is a letter sent to parents and staff from School Superintendent Dr. John Doherty

Good Afternoon, Reading Public School Community,

Yesterday, Governor Baker declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.  Due to the Governor’s actions, and as an abundance of caution, we will be putting the following safeguards in place between now and April 17th:

  • This weekend, all onsite school and district events will be canceled or postponed with the exception of SATs at the High School on Saturday. This will allow our facilities and technology departments to perform additional cleaning of all high touch surfaces, traffic areas and computer keyboards in all of our schools.
  • We are postponing the following events over the next few weekends to a future date this year:
    • MIsster RMHS
    • Parker Drama Show, The Little Mermaid, Jr.
    • Sophomore Semi-Formal
    • Parent University
  • The following events have been canceled this weekend and will not be rescheduled:
    • NE First Robotics Tournament
    • Massachusetts State Science Olympiad Competition (Middle School)
  • Our students will not be participating in the following events this weekend or next weekend:
    • Massachusetts State Science Olympiad Competition (High School)
    • RMHS Environthon
    • Junior Districts
  • Friday, March 20th, will now be a regular day of school, instead of a professional development day for teachers. This will allow us to keep an extra day towards the end of the school year if we need to use it for school cancellations.
  • We are canceling or postponing all daytime field trips outside of Reading which require large group gatherings between now and April 17th. This includes the Grade 4 and 5 Boston Symphony Orchestra Trips this Thursday and Friday.
  • Between now and April 17th, we are canceling all outside rental activities in Reading Public School buildings, including Reading Recreation activities. This will allow our facilities staff to increase cleaning activities in high touch surfaces and traffic areas in our schools.
  • The Parker and Coolidge Quebec trips have been canceled.
  • We will be evaluating all other overnight and international field trips on a case by case basis.
  • We will be reallocating 2 hours of cleaning time per day during the week to increase cleaning of high touch surfaces in our schools.
  • We will perform additional cleaning on weekends after this weekend on an as-needed basis.
  • Our facilities department is surveying our school buildings to see if our high foot traffic areas have adequate hand sanitizer dispensers.  These dispensers were originally put in 10 years ago when we had the H1N1 pandemic.  If there are high traffic areas that do not have dispensers, we will install them.
  • We are replacing the hand sanitizer liquid in the dispensers with a higher alcohol-based product (at least 60% alcohol) which has been recommended by the Center for Disease Control to inactivate the coronavirus.

Building Principals will communicate specific building event cancellations to their community.  If conditions change between now and April 17th, we will reevaluate and adjust, as necessary.  We understand the amount of time and effort that our students, staff, and parents have invested in the above activities and the financial impact a cancellation or postponement may have.  However, we feel that the safety of our students, staff, and community members are the highest priority and these cancellations or postponements are in the best interest of everyone.

We want to continue to emphasize that taking the necessary precautions will help limit your exposure to the COVID-19 virus.  As with seasonal flu and strep infections, there are general precautions we can all take to remain as healthy as possible.

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Use Alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible.
  • Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

It is important to keep children home from school when they are ill. If your child has any of the following symptoms please keep them home from school: temperature greater than 100.4, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, any rash not yet diagnosed by a physician, red or pink itchy eye, and/or drainage from eye, and any contagious illness such as strep throat or flu.

The Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an evolving situation that we are following closely and will continue to update you as information is shared with us. Please rest assured that we are monitoring student health concerns. We are in close communication with the local Board of Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health/School Health Unit, as well as pediatric health care providers in the community. Our School Facilities Department is following our normal cleaning protocol for our educational spaces as we typically do during cold and flu season. We are following all recommended guidelines to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

We remain deeply committed to student and staff wellness and will continue to share new information with you, as necessary, about this evolving situation.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your building principal or me.

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