The Region 14 school district, which includes Bethlehem and Woodbury, is closing for the rest of the week after a student came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, school officials announced Tuesday.
Officials said that student and their family are not showing any signs of illness and are self-monitoring in their home for 14 days, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The district has decided to close all school buildings from March 11 through March 15 to deep clean and disinfect. There will be no activities during the closure.
The closure will be treated the same as snow days and the days will be made up at the end of the school year, the notice said.
Region 14 is also postponing or canceling large events, including the middle school and high school play rehearsals, and canceling all field trips until further notice. Sports have also been canceled.
“We would like to remind you, once again, that this is being done out of an abundance of caution. According to Dr. Matthew Carter from the State of Connecticut Department of Health, based on the circumstances of this incident the risk to students and staff in our schools is extremely low,” write Superintendent Joseph Olzacki in a letter to the school community.
Town leaders in Woodbury and Bethlehem said they are taking action as a precaution.
"We have protocols given to our custodians for cleaning all the buildings. they're going into a deeper cleaning using bleach, washing down everything people touch whether it's handrails, doorknobs, doors, countertops, whatever," explained Barbara Perkinson, First Selectman of Woodbury.
A parent who spoke with NBC Connecticut said the situation is hitting too close to home.
"We respect their decision and we're happy they're keeping our children safe," Pauria Jacobi, who has a son in the district. "It's scary for us moms and my son and his friends."
According to the governor's office, the closure is tied to a coronavirus patient at Bridgeport Hospital who lives in Bethlehem. Officials believe that patient, a woman in her 60s, got the virus on a trip to Nevada, and came into contact with "children and grandchildren."
Two people in Connecticut have tested positive for coronavirus, including the woman from Bethlehem. The state Department of Public Health has tested another 54, whose results came back negative, and has another 19 scheduled for testing Tuesday.
The key symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the CDC are:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can appear in infected persons two to 14 days after exposure.
Coronavirus Prevention Steps
Steps for prevention from the CDC include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, such as to the grocery store
- Coverings should not be placed on children under 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- The face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Steps to Self-Monitor for Coronavirus
Steps to self-monitor from the CDC include:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
- Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
If you do get sick with a fever, cough or have trouble breathing, call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room and communicate with your doctor about your recent travel.
- If you develop symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
The CDC has a special website set up with details about the coronavirus, including how it spreads and treatment.
Anyone with questions relating to coronavirus can call 2-1-1 or text "CTCOVID" to 898211. The 2-1-1 hotline is available 24 hours a day.
You can also visit the state's coronavirus information website here. Residents are encouraged to check the website for answers to questions before calling the hotline.