Dear Spring Branch ISD Families,
You may be aware of recent news media reports about an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. As of Jan. 30, 2020, there have been five confirmed cases in travelers from Wuhan identified in the U.S. No cases have been confirmed in Texas to date, and we currently have no suspected cases among our Spring Branch ISD student and employee communities. Health officials assure us that the immediate risk to our population is low at this time.
Given the evolving situation, I thought it important to inform you that Spring Branch ISD is working closely with the Houston Health Department to monitor this situation. While much is being learned about this newly emerged virus, based on the current information, our local and state health officials deem the risk of local transmission in our community and the general public to be very low at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the World Health Organization, are closely monitoring the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and are giving updated guidance to federal, state and local officials.
The 2019 novel coronavirus is believed to be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, much in the way the flu and other respiratory viruses are spread. Symptoms are thought to appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. At this time, persons considered at risk for contracting the virus are those with travel to Wuhan, China, or individuals in close contact with persons infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.
In situations like these where media reports may cause family concern, I feel it is best to rely on factual information from reliable sources. Therefore, here are links to information about the novel coronavirus from local, state, national and international health organizations:
- Houston Health Department
- Texas Department of State Health Services
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
Public health officials advise that flu and other common respiratory illnesses are circulating. It is recommended that everyone follow basic prevention guidelines, including:
- Everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get a flu shot.
- 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.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick. Keeping a sick child at home prevents the spread of illness in the school community and allows the child an opportunity to rest and recover.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
I also want to assure you that throughout the school year, and in the winter months especially, I work closely with our school nurses to monitor illnesses, such as the flu. We also work closely with our school custodians to ensure our campuses receive thorough cleanings during flu season.
As we continue to work with local health officials and monitor this situation, we will provide updates to our community should it become necessary. As always, I thank you for your support of our district, our schools, our students and our teachers and staff.
Judy Christopherson, RN
SBISD Health Services Supervisor