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Buffalo Public School District prepares for COVID-19

City schools outlined 10 protocols
Posted at 12:38 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 17:44:58-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The leader of the Buffalo Public School District outlined the district’s response in dealing with the Coronavirus.

"This is a very challenging issue because schools are certainly a place where a lot of people gather,” remarked Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo Public School District.

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Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo Public School District.

Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash outlined several steps the school district has in place as it prepares for COVID-19.

Cash confirmed there are just a few under quarantine from the school district.

“I have several that come from Italy over the winter break and they are now on remaining about seven days of quarantine,” Cash said.

“Can you say how many?” Buckley asked. “Four - two staff - two students,” responded Cash.

The district has emergency plans in place. School nurses are also keeping a close check on absenteeism.

“Every principal has been trained in these plan. Every principal has trained his or her staff in those plans and those plans include health emergency,” said Cash.

Superintendent Cash described what they are watching for among students.

“Who’s sick, what are they sick from, what’s going on, o we are staying right on that information,” Cash explained.

The superintendent is also postponing all school trips and forbidding travel to the five high alert countries.

“China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Italy - done gone - no -going or coming,” Cash noted.

The district also urges school families and staff to make sure they report any travel so they can notify the Erie County Health Department.

The superintendent says the district is also preparing for any possible school closures. He says even if there is one unconfirmed case, he would close the school for two to three days and do a full cleaning.

“Right now - on a one or two case - that’s *not*confirmed, I might close a school for two or three days and do the hospital level cleaning and sanitation of that school and bring students back and I could see that happening first then before we go to a mass closure of six week,” explained Cash.

But Cash is looking to the state for the potential of regional school closings if there is an COVID-19-outbreak.

“So we would probably be talking about regional closure of schools and that’s important to note, now what’s somewhat concerning, but if it gets real to that point is this would be up to six weeks,” described Cash.

The district is stepping up the cleaning and sanitizing of all school buildings and just purchased supplies that will last until the end of the school year.

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Buffalo schools displayed new cleaning supplies that just arrived.

“We have very, very — maximum strength — industrial cleaning supplies. We call them broad spectrum. They stay disinfected for over 48-hours for floors and surfaces in our schools,” Cash said.

The district says teachers and staff will also be using a special wipe to clean all common surfaces.
First Student and the NFTA will also clean the buses to help protect students.

The superintendent says he's working on contingency plans with Say Yes Buffalo and faith-based groups. He would like to be able to send a mobile clinic for testing for children at their homes and also too have food delivered to students. Many city school children rely on the district’s free breakfast and lunch program.

Here is the full information of the school district's protocols:

BPS Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Measures and Protocols

The following are critical areas in our preparation and planning relating to the ever-changing COVID-19 illness. The first defense necessitates that calm and common sense prevail.

Local and State Health Officials

· We are working closely with all local and state health officials, as well as the NYS Department of Education.

Emergency Safety Plans

· All school administrators are annually trained on an updated District and School Emergency Response Plan. Administrators in turn have trained all staff on these plans.

· It is required that every classroom in the District maintain a School Emergency Response documents (red folder) for use during all emergency situations, including health related emergencies.

Absenteeism/Illness Reporting Protocol

· Our school nurses will chart any flu-like cases they are seeing, record symptoms, make recommendations to go home or visit the doctor, and then perform follow-up with HIPPA and FERPA laws in mind.

· People who don’t feel well are strongly encouraged to stay home.

· The Erie County Department of Health recommends the following: Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern, or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas, should call ahead to their health care provider before seeking treatment in person.

Cleaning & Sanitizing Protocol

· Wall hand sanitizer dispensers, in all classrooms and common areas, will be kept full.

· Broad Spectrum disinfectant with 48-hour germ killing capacity is stocked, and schools will be deeply cleaned twice-weekly.

· Sanitizing wipes containing .5% peroxide solution have been stocked for teachers and classrooms, and remote offices.

· All bathrooms will have hot running water and an ample supply of soap.

· We have ordered enough supplies to outlast the school year.

Food Service Protocol

· Food Service safety and sanitation techniques at the school level and in the commissary will continue to be applied at the most stringent levels.

· Food Service Employees who do not feel well do not report to work.

School Transportation Protocol

· Both First Student Inc, and the NFTA have upgraded sanitization protocols to mitigate the spreading of germs on commonly touched surfaces on their buses.

School Dismissals and Closure Protocol

· We will work closely with the State Education Department and the Erie County Department of Health for guidance when and whether it will be appropriate for school dismissal or closure with advanced notice.

· Our Information Technology team is working with our Curriculum and Instruction team to devise multiple plans to provide educational resources should schools close including e-learning and take-home materials.

Private and Work-Related Travel Protocol

· Staff will submit any and all requests and information regarding travel of students and families (from field trips, to spring break travel, to conferences).

· Superintendent will decide whether to cancel or postpone school and district travel in accordance with up-to-the-minute Health Official guidelines.

· Notifications will be shared with Health Officials to assess and determine necessity and/or safety of travel and/or possible (14-day) quarantine upon return.

Communication Protocol

· We will provide weekly updates for families, staff and the community using multiple means such as the District website, robocalls, emails, fliers, and texts.

· We will widely share timely information and recommendations as we receive them from health professionals and related agencies.

· There will be regular updates from Student Support Services to building Principals.

Earlier this week the district notified its school community about following precautions and protocols in a letter sent out in many different languages. It also has information for parents/guardians posted on its web page.

The district announcement comes as Erie County announced Friday morning that currently there are 116 people under quarantine in the county, but there are no cases in Erie County at this time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says there are 44 cases of the virus in New York State, 11 new positive tests as of Thursday. Cuomo said those new cases are connected to an original case in New Rochelle.

"That number will continue to go up," stated Cuomo Friday.

The governor saying COVID-19 is "a flu on steroids."