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Here is what Middletown Area School District is telling parents about coronavirus

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that schools across the United States should begin preparing for the possible threat of coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats and bats, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

As of Tuesday, there are 60 total cases in the United States, with none in Pennsylvania. There have been six deaths, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold:

• Through the air by coughing or sneezing.

• Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.

• Touching an object or surface with the virus on it.

• Occasionally, fecal contamination.

Here is what the Middletown Area School District is telling students and parents about how to prepare, based on a letter on raiderweb.org from Superintendent Lori Suski.

It says in part:

While the news of coronavirus has everyone on high alert, it is important to note that there are other respiratory viruses such as influenza currently circulating in our schools. Fever, coughing and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of influenza and do not necessarily mean that a person has contracted coronavirus. Currently, public health officials are not recommending the use of masks or gloves in public settings. At this time, federal health authorities are not recommending that schools cancel classes.

We kindly ask parents to follow these recommended strategies to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses:

• Keep children home from school when they exhibit cold and flu-like symptoms.

• Encourage frequent hand-washing with anti-bacterial soap.

• Refrain from touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Refrain from sharing food with others.

At the school district and school building/classroom level, staff have been directed to do the following:

• Review hand-washing techniques with students.

• Continue to provide anti-bacterial soap in classrooms and bathrooms.

• Have hand sanitizers available in all public areas for student and staff use when hand-washing is not possible.

• Daily cleaning by custodial staff with anti-bacterial products on all high-touch surfaces.

• Vigilant monitoring of the student body by school nurses, especially in cases where students exhibit symptoms associated with the virus.

The district said it will update parents and students with additional information as it becomes available from the CDC and/or the Pennsylvania Department of Health, health.pa.gov.

The CDC does not recommend wearing masks in public. Most often, spread of respiratory viruses from person-to-person happens within 6 feet. It is important that masks are readily available to health care workers and others who need them.