ALLEN MOSS

Dear Houston R-1 School District Staff and Community:

There is no higher priority for our entire Houston School District family than the safety of our students, staff and community. With the coronavirus being labeled a pandemic, many of our families have questions regarding the virus and the impact on our school community. I want to assure you that we are in close communication with local and state officials. We are also continuing to closely monitor the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in order to stay on top of this evolving situation. We also have a nurse in both our elementary and HS/MS school buildings to monitor and address individual student health concerns.

Below are common questions we are receiving from our families and the public, along with our responses.

We hope these updates help reassure you that the Houston School District is taking this situation very seriously, that we are adjusting our practices in response to new information from public health officials and that we continue to prioritize the safety and learning of our students.

What can I do to help stop the spread of all viruses?

The best way to stop the spread of any virus includes:

1. Frequent hand-washing with anti-bacterial soap and warm water.

2. Get vaccinated — there are flu vaccinations available, but there will not be a vaccination available for the coronavirus for some time.

3. Cover your cough.

4. Don’t go to school or to public places if you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms. Wait 24 hours after you are symptom-free before returning to school or other public places.

5. Avoid touching your face. Don’t rub your eyes, nose or mouth.

Will Houston R-1 School District close schools?

The Missouri Department of Health and the Texas County Health Department do not recommend this action. As situations change, this might become necessary, but not at this time. As a district we have had many flu-related absences, but this is normal for this time of year and hopefully we are getting near the end of the flu season. If active cases of the coronavirus spread to our area before the end of school, it would be very possible that we would need to close school for a time.

Are health-related absences due to coronavirus concerns excused from school?

At this time, the Coronavirus is not in our area. However, we want to emphasize that parents and families know what is best for their children and we will honor your decision to keep your child home from school. Some children and family members may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. We are asking parents to make the best decision for their families. Please notify your child’s school if you will be keeping him or her home and the symptoms they are experiencing.

How will the Houston School District keep families, staff and students informed regarding coronavirus?

Any district updates will be conveyed through regular district channels—written newsletters, voice messaging, the district website, and social media.

What is the protocol for cleaning and disinfecting schools and buses?

Staff have been directed to prioritize cleaning common and high-traffic areas multiple times a day. Prioritized cleaning includes bathrooms, the cafeteria, common spaces, door handles, emergency bar on doors, etc. All efforts will be made to keep students healthy and safe.

When should a student or staff member stay home?

If students or staff experience fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough and/or difficulty breathing, the CDC recommends they should stay home from school and contact their health care provider immediately.

Will school events and travel be canceled?

School events, including athletics and local field trips, are not canceled at this time, but that remains a likely possibility.

What conversations should parents have with their children at home?

We know families, staff and students are concerned. We are committed to keeping you informed and working with you to keep our school communities safe. Here is an informative graphic resource from NPR: https://www.npr.org/…/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-n…

Where can I get for more information?

1. CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavi…/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

2. WHO: https://www.who.int/

3. Texas County Health Department: https://www.texascountyhealth.org/

4. Missouri Department of Health

Where can I find a map showing the areas where the Coronavirus has been found?

Families and individuals may be interested in traveling over Spring Break next week. Prior to traveling, it might be a good idea to ensure that the Coronavirus is not “active” in the location you plan to visit. John’s Hopkins University is keeping a map updated daily showing the location of active cases of the Coronavirus. That map can be found here:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html…

Rest assured, we are monitoring this developing situation closely, staying in regular contact with federal agencies, health organizations and other experts. We will continue to adjust our operations according to the recommendations of health authorities as the situation develops. If you have questions, contact your child’s school or the county health department. Also, on March 11, the MO DHSS opened a statewide public hotline for citizens needing guidance regarding COVID-19. That hotline is operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is 877-435-8411.

The situation is very fluid and changing day by day. We will do our best to keep you advised as conditions change and develop.

Sincerely,

Dr. Allen Moss

Superintendent

Houston R-1 School District

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