March 12 COVID-19 Update

Deer Park Families:

Yesterday, Governor Mike DeWine discussed an upcoming executive order indicating that all events including gatherings of large crowds should be canceled/postponed until further notice.

We would like to acknowledge all of the thoughtful questions and concerns that have been sent to us, as we navigate an evolving situation to ensure the best possible outcome in considering the health and wellness of our students, teachers, and staff.

The feedback gives our leadership team the opportunity to discuss family questions and concerns with our public health partners during daily conversations.

How is Deer Park Schools making decisions?
Ohio schools continue to follow the directives of the state health department. The Hamilton County Health Department is the lead agency in our community’s COVID-19 response, and our schools play an important role in providing stability and safety for our region. Superintendent Jay Phillips works in daily partnership with the Hamilton County Health Department and other superintendents from across the state and country to assess and respond to new information. This is a dynamic situation, and we will continue to adjust and adapt.

What is the impact on upcoming school events?
In a press conference yesterday, Governor DeWine announced that the State is not recommending the closure of K-12 schools at this time. However, he and the Ohio Department of Health strongly recommended limiting social contact and large group gatherings.

Under this recommendation, Deer Park Schools has made the following decisions:

  • School events, such as concerts and plays, that invite large numbers (approximately 150+ people) of parents and community members into our schools through March 31 will be postponed until further notice. This will include all concerts and performances, Mother-Son Date Night at Amity, and winter sports awards. We will evaluate opportunities to reschedule these events in the future.
  • We will continue to follow the recommendations of the Ohio High School Athletic Association and adjust schedules as needed.
  • Extra-curricular meetings and practices will continue at this time.
  • All external rentals beginning March 16 through March 31 will be canceled. This will be re-evaluated at the end of the month.

We understand that there are upcoming trips planned for our students after March 31. We will continue to monitor the recommendations of the health department and CDC in order to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our students.

When would a school close?
Deer Park Schools continues to follow the recommendations of the Hamilton County Health Department, the State of Ohio, and area educational professionals. The current recommendation is not to proactively close schools or the district. Families need to prepare for the possibility that schools could be closed as the outbreak continues.

If your child’s school is closed, you will receive a phone call and email the night prior to closure, or with as much advance notice as possible.

Additionally, a school may be closed if staff absences impact school operations and learning. School may also be closed if the cleaning needs across the district surpass the availability of custodial services. In these cases, the district or school will communicate directly with families and the school community.

One additional consideration health responders have asked us to consider is the impact that closing schools has on our health care community. Cincinnati is fortunate to have great medical institutions and providers. Many of our students’ families are health care providers or work in the healthcare industry. If schools close, fewer people will be able to provide front-line support. As soon as our public health partners determine schools should proactively close, we will.

If schools close, what is our plan for educating students?
We have plans in place to continue the educational mission; however, the health of our staff and students is what’s most important. If someone is symptomatic or has contracted the disease, their focus should be on getting better.

In the event of a school closure, our desired outcome is that students continue to have access to relevant, meaningful learning opportunities using our existing systems for sharing information electronically.

Additionally, if a student needs to self-quarantine, teachers will work with that student to make sure that they do not fall behind. Of course, if a student is ill we want that student to focus on getting better!

What about spring break travel?
If you will be traveling during spring break, please monitor the CDC travel advisories. Currently, travelers to Italy, Iran, China, and South Korea must self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving back in the United States. The CDC now recommends that travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel. Governor DeWine shares that each traveler should ask themselves “Is it necessary?” Please visit the CDC’s website for more information about travel.

Can I keep my child home?
Families know what’s best for their children and we will honor your decision to keep your child home from school during this time. Absences will be excused.

How are schools and buses being cleaned and disinfected?
All schools are cleaned and disinfected regularly with hospital-grade disinfectants as a standard practice in the district. Buildings continue to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly, and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, water fountains, technology, etc. are cleaned daily. Custodians will replace soap and hand sanitizers often, and extra hand sanitizing stations have been placed in the buildings. All buses are being disinfected daily, and the Child Nutrition Department will continue to follow food safety practices and use approved disinfectants.

How do I talk to my child about COVID-19?
As public conversations around COVID-19 increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. The CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19, and ways children can avoid getting and spreading the disease.

How are schools helping students prevent COVID-19?
We are providing resources, supplies and additional time for students to wash their hands regularly. Please help us by keeping sick children home.

Anyone that has symptoms of any illness should stay home until they are without fever and without medication for 24 hours. If students exhibit illness or COVID-19 related symptoms we will isolate them, and contact a parent or guardian to come pick them up immediately.

What can staff and students do to stay healthy?
Please take the extra precautions that are recommended by the CDC, such as hand washing, covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue, and staying home when you are sick.

Again, we appreciate your partnership and patience, and will continue to provide regular updates as this rapidly changing situation evolves.

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