To the Elkridge Elementary Community,
I am writing to share updates about the COVID-19 virus with both the latest verified information and as it relates specifically to our school. Our school information includes personal preventative measures, social concerns and school-based responses. I know that the sudden increase in cases and it's relative proximity to our county may cause some to feel anxious I want to the steps we are taking to help keep our school a safe and healthy environment.
As you may be aware, Governor Hogan announced last evening that three cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have been confirmed in Maryland. All three cases are located in Montgomery County and are contained. As stated by Governor Hogan, Maryland residents should continue to go to work and children to school. HCPSS schools and scheduled activities will continue unless a change is deemed necessary by local and state health professionals.While there are no cases currently in Howard County we are actively working to put preventative measures in place. The first and most important step is the sharing of confirmed information including not only preventative but responsive actions as well.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We are keeping all hand washing stations stocked and monitoring them throughout the day. Additionally, we will increase the frequency of suggested hand washing including the use of the electric hand sanitizer stations before lunch and snack.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Teachers will review this advice with students and encourage hand washing throughout the day.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Our school nurses have specific protocols they follow when a student visits the health room and shows symptoms typically associated with the cold or flu.
• Stay home when you are sick.This is where your help is needed! Please monitor your children carefully at home. Children who are displaying signs of illness, especially a fever, should not be sent to school. Fever reducers often mask symptoms but do not prevent people from spreading the germs. When students present with a fever they should remain fever free without the aid of medication before they return.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash or cough/sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. Teachers will review and model these techniques with students. Please also model and review these expectations at home as well.
• Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces. The custodial staff is working to accomplish this.
Additionally, students are permitted to carry personal hand sanitizer to reduce the spread of germs. If you elect to send your child/children with sanitizer, please take the time to educate them on the safe use of the product Our students typically range from 3-11 years of age and need extra guidance to know how much and how often they should use sanitizer.
Additionally, please caution students not to "play" with, squirt or use it for any other reason other than its intended use. Any object being misused, including sanitizer, could be a distraction or unsafe and then would need restrictions from the school. We certainly do not want this to occur and ask your help in ensuring the safe and proper use of sanitizer.
Students have been overheard teasing other students about having COVID-19 and creating a "game" of running away from the student. This behavior is not acceptable for a variety of reasons. Students should be in a safe and supportive environment and teasing of any type is not permitted. Additionally, several students have joked that they have personally contracted the virus. Again, given our current situation this behavior is not considered a joke as it may trigger a medical response. Please review the behavioral expectations with your child. While we understand that children, as well as adults, may experience anxiety around this new health concern, we want to provide appropriate adult support in a controlled setting so that all students are able to focus on their education while at school.
Please note that this situation is fluid and we will provide updates as they become necessary. We are linking our website the school system website to help you access the latest information.
Michael G. Caldwell