Coronavirus & Childcare Service Update
The Otter Learning Administration and I understand the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a concern among our families and staff. We understand and appreciate the fact that many teachers and parents are concerned about how the current outbreak of COVID-19 will impact their lives and communities and wish to take appropriate steps to mitigate any risks. We continue to monitor the situation with close cooperation among health professionals, Knox County Schools and the Tennessee Department of Human Services. This is an understandably anxious time, and we appreciate how our families and staff are working together to keep our community safe.
At this time, Knox County officials have reported one (1) novel coronavirus case and more cases are likely to be identified in the coming days across the United States. Social distancing and personal protective measures including good hygiene habits and use of nonpharmaceutical interventions will be the most important response strategy. Fortunately, the COVID-19 virus seems to be impacting children at lower rates than adults and children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms.
At our schools, we are taking additional important measures to reduce the risk of any outbreak:
All children, teachers, and staff who are ill should stay home until their fever and symptoms are gone for at least 24 hours
Reinforce proper handwashing for children and staff throughout the day
Increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces at our facility or center (twice daily) with approved cleaning liquids
Increased evening cleaning throughout the school including door handles and other frequently touched surfaces
The Coronavirus continues to be a very fluid situation. We understand many of you have questions, and we will continue to address as many as possible in our updates to families.
The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs), including answers to calls across our school network that we have received this week regarding our COVID-19 response and actions we must take.
Q: What is your school closure policy?
A: We continue to monitor the situation with close cooperation among health professionals, Knox County Schools and the Tennessee Department of Human Services. We plan to evaluate the decision to close our schools on a daily basis using information from the local county schools, licensing agencies and any events that take place within our student / family community.
The status levels of the virus in our local community and school are as follows:
Suspected - Means a person has been exposed to the virus.
Presumptive - Means a person is exhibiting symptoms and has a high-risk history.
Confirmed - Means a person has received a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis through the 2 level testing processes.
In the event of a SUSPECTED case, we ask parents to keep your children/family self-quarantined for 14 days.
In the event of a PRESUMPTIVE case within the center (student, staff or guardian who has entered the facility in the last 14 days) the person and family would need to be quarantined for a period of 14 days.
In the event of a CONFIRMED case within the center (student, staff, or guardian, who has entered the facility within 14 days of the confirmed status date) the school will close immediately and remain closed for 14 days.
Q: What should I do if I suspect a student or staff member has COVID-19 and is at school?
A: Ask the student or staff member to go to the front office for a health check. We will then guide the student or staff to the appropriate local health office to receive the appropriate testing.
Q: What if an ill student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case?
A: In all cases, our schools will work with the local health department and other relevant leadership to respond to and communicate regarding possible COVID-19 exposure. Local health officials may recommend temporary school dismissals depending on the circumstances of the particular case.
Q: Are there any plans to alter or cancel travel, field trips, school dances, due to concerns?
A: Yes. The guidance to parents, teachers, and staff is to practice community social distancing measures which may include canceling group activities or events when the following three conditions are met: 1) Large numbers of people gathered >50 people; 2) Indeterminate health and identity of attendees gathered; and 3) Gatherings with attendees in close proximity within confined spaces. Please check communications from your school site for a list of events and activities that have already been canceled or postponed.
Q. How can I talk with my children about COVID-19?
A: We are aware that concern over this new virus can make children and families anxious. Therefore, we have provided a link for you, “How to Talk to Children about COVID-19,” a resource from the National Association of School Psychologists.