Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Dear ARPS Community:
The Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been much in the news for the past few weeks, and we want to share information about how ARPS is responding. We want to assure our community that there have not been any cases, or suspected cases, of COVID-19 in the Amherst, Pelham or Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools. In fact, as of this writing, Massachusetts has only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the entire state, in the Boston area, and the risk to our residents remains low according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. They note, “While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.” In the US, there are only 53 cases confirmed. It is important to note that residents are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has shared guidance for school administrators and school health personnel regarding the COVID-19 which we are following. We revised our cleaning checklists last year to promote safety and health and are reviewing the recently-released DPH documents to further refine them based on their guidance. As usual, our custodial staff did a deep cleaning of all of the buildings over the February break while staff and students were away. In addition, please know we are in frequent communication with the Amherst Public Health Department, which is working directly with MDPH and following recommendations from both MDPH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including taking part in weekly conference calls about the virus.
For questions regarding the schools’/Districts’ protocols for dealing with viruses such as COVID-19, you may contact Jill Conselino, MSN, RN, and ARPS Nurse Manager, at 362-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Michael Morris, Superintendent
Jill Conselino, MSN, RN, ARPS Nurse Manager
Fact Sheet to assist you in learning more about COVID-19: https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19#-printable-fact-sheets-.
The Amherst Health Department continues to monitor the global outbreak of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. We are in close communication with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), our local institutions of higher education and the Amherst Regional Public Schools (ARPS).
First, we’re on it!
The Town has systems in place to address just this type of situation. We have experienced experts who are actively monitoring and managing the situation in the Town.
The Amherst Public Health Department is the local end of a chain that starts with the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and goes through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Hampshire Public Health Preparedness Coalition (HPHPC). The Town is the local point of contact and source for local information for residents and businesses of Amherst.
At every level, emergency response plans – plans that have been set-up, reviewed, and updated regularly for years – and are being reviewed for this particular situation.
We are in continuous contact with the CDC and DPH, with our local institutions of higher education, with our local hospital and we are working very closely with the Amherst Regional Public Schools (ARPS).
What do we know now?
Planning for and preventing the spread of communicable disease is an ongoing process at all levels of government. We in Amherst are part of a robust system of planning, communication and response to disease outbreaks. Amherst healthcare providers, our local hospitals, and Emergency Medical Systems are in communication with DPH regarding the virus and potential cases.
As of March 4, 2020, the risk of infection in our area is low and there is no “community-level spread” of the virus. There is one confirmed case in Massachusetts and one “presumptive positive” case identified, which is still pending confirmation by the CDC. We can’t predict the spread of the virus and it’s possible that we’ll see cases of COVID-19 in our community.
The good news is we are prepared and have time to get ready. Click here to visit our COVID-19/Coronavirus web page.