NewsLocal News


Schools keeping parents informed on Coronavirus

Cleaning, hand washing & stay home if ill
Posted at 12:22 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 17:28:56-05

There are no confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) reported in the Western New York region, but Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday there is one case reported in New York City.

Here at home two area school districts are providing specific information to students and school families about the Coronavirurs and hygiene.

west seneca school.jpeg
File photo/First graders at West Elementary School.

The West Seneca Central School District has issued a letter that opens on the district’s webpage.

“We are aware of concerns in the community about the spread of this relatively new virus,” wrote Matthew, Bystrak, superintendent, West Seneca schools.

The letter states the district is “closely monitoring this fluid situation and following guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, Erie County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.

“If the district becomes aware that a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will immediately notify staff and parents/guardians. If a student or staff member shows respiratory symptoms, we will follow our current practices. For handling respiratory illnesses, subject to any additional guidance forthcoming,” stated Bystrak.

west seneca school room.jpeg
File photo/First graders at West Elementary School.

The Buffalo Public School District is also issuing a letter Monday to the school community in a number of different language to reach families.

The district information is also available on the BPS website.

It states “the Buffalo Public School District is committed to providing families and staff with updates on COVID-19.”

“BPS is in regular contact with the Erie County Public Health and the NYS Department of Public Health, and we follow guidelines and best practices from those entities and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when it comes to responding to public health concerns, including Coronavirus and the flu. BPS will continue to monitor the situation with county and state health officials. Should New York’s status change, the district will turn to NYS and the CDC and follow any updated guidelines,” writes the district.

The Buffalo school district said it will provide updates as new information or guidelines are provided by public health officials. Buffalo schools highly suggests families keep students home if ill.

Both Buffalo and West Seneca have a list of hygiene suggestions.

The Niagara Falls City School District is monitoring for illness in its schools.

"We are making sure we have a full cleaning staff in every building. we're monitoring all the attendance rates in all the schools," said Mark Laurrie, superintendent, Niagara Falls City School District.

mark laurrie.jpg
Mark Laurrie, superintendent, Niagara Falls City School District.

Laurrie tells 7 Eyewitness News he's closely tracking the number of flu cases in his district, watching for any changes in illness, but so far, laurrie says, there's nothing unusual to report.

"We are monitoring the number of students who are sent home, by school and if they are by family or single incident. We are watching that daily now, where it was weekly," Laurrie explained.

Laurrie says his health team is checking for symptoms among students.

"We're not asking our nurses to diagnosis. we're asking the nurses to use the general symptoms and signs that kids have to notify parents to come pick their child up to keep their child at home," Laurrie said

Last week, Erie County Health Commission Dr. Gale Burstein stated that it is only a matter of time that the virus will spread into the local region.

“Sometime in the near future we will have COVID-19 in our community and we will have to worry about it and we may have to take extreme measures to protect ourselves,” declared Burstein.

Burstein also suggesting that districts should be ready if there were to be a potential pandemic and need to quarantine people.

“Are schools prepared to offer like e-learning, virtual classrooms, where kids could go on their laptop at home or maybe at another place if they don’t have internet access and computer,” Burstein explained.

Falls superintendent laurrie says they are urging parents to keep children home if they are sick and are encouraging children to wash their hands.

Laurrie says some students are arriving at school wearing face masks, worried about getting ill.

"We have had a couple of students enter buildings with masks on and what we're being told is the masks is really not an effective tool,"

Covid-19 is passed through droplets and if you touch a droplet to your eye - a mask won't protect you.

The Williamsville Central School District is offering health tips on its website for school families.

School families are directed to several government websites to keep updated and informed of the virus.

New York State Health Department lists information on preventing the spread of the virus:

  • 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. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.

  • Avoid touching your nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • 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.