Dear Shrewsbury Families and Staff,
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” While this can be challenging for many reasons, it is a crucial strategy in the fight to lessen the spread of COVID-19. This strategy works by limiting the contact between sick people and healthy people, thereby reducing opportunities for transmission of the illness.
We ALL play a part in the response to this global pandemic. The goal at this point is to “flatten the curve” of the virus and protect those who are most at risk of developing severe illness (older adults, people with underlying medical conditions, etc). Closing schools is part of the strategy, but this will only work if people use social distancing practices during this time.
Please do your part to help by following the suggestions below:
Stay at home - This means no social gatherings of any kind including sleepovers, “play dates”, meeting for coffee, or families/friends visiting each other’s homes. While we recognize that this is very challenging, it is necessary. Find alternate ways to connect with friends and extended family via phone, FaceTime or Skype, etc.
Avoid public places as much as possible - Minimize grocery shopping trips and other errands as much as possible. Maintain social distancing (6 feet or more) between you and other shoppers as much as possible while in stores.
Take care of yourself - Gyms and public playgrounds should be avoided, but taking a walk or playing outdoors with household members is encouraged! Keeping 6 feet between you and non-household members is important, even when outdoors. Getting adequate sleep and practicing other methods of self-care is also important for maintaining general physical and mental health during this time. See here for tips for managing your own stress and anxiety related to this unprecedented situation, and here for tips for talking to children.
Hand washing - Healthy habits such as frequent handwashing, and cough and sneeze etiquette still apply at home. Cleaning and disinfecting of commonly used surfaces such as doorknobs, faucets, countertops, keyboards and controllers is recommended.
In addition, if you or a close contact does become ill, stay at home and contact your healthcare provider for advice and instructions. If you or a close contact test positive for COVID-19, follow the isolation or quarantine procedures recommended by your healthcare provider. We also request that you contact Noelle Freeman, Director of School Nursing (see below for contact information), to share the information. We are making this request to help ensure that we have a clear picture of the ongoing extent of illness in our school community. This will aid in future decision making and will help to keep our community safe and healthy to the greatest extent possible. While some of this health information will be available to us through the Worcester Regional Department of Public Health, information for individuals who reside outside of Shrewsbury is not available to us. Any information you provide will be kept confidential, and will only be shared with a very limited number of school personnel who need to know in order to make decisions and assist in the tracing of contacts as necessary. Names will never be used in any reporting of information, and will not be shared with contacts. Thanks in advance for your assistance with this!
These are trying times for everyone. It is our hope that you are taking good care of yourself and those around you. Social distancing is one way that we can all do just that! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Noelle Freeman, RN Dr Timothy Gibson, MD Joseph M. Sawyer, Ed. D.
Director of School Nursing School Physician Superintendent
508-841-1226 UMass Memorial Pediatric Hospitalist