March 10, 2020
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
As we all read and react to the many reports regarding the coronavirus, I want to thank you for the continued calm and care with which you are approaching this situation and one another. I also want to assure you that our District is working in tandem with our local health officials to make the very best decisions for the safety of our schools and our community.
Currently in Princeton, our response measures include: stringent and frequent cleaning of our buildings and buses; respiratory hygiene education and practice; careful monitoring of daily attendance and of any staff or student illnesses; and social distancing in the form of greetings other than handshakes and hugs.
We are also engaged in planning for the possibility of an extended school closure should our health authorities believe such a measure is warranted. I want to thank our staff for the caring, collaborative and creative way they have been working already to put in place meaningful ways to teach our students remotely and to ensure that our students who qualify for free and reduced lunch would continue to receive meals.
To provide our staff with additional time for that important planning, our District will be implementing an Early Dismissal Day on Monday, March 16. Elementary schools and John Witherspoon will dismiss at 1:00 PM. Princeton High School will be dismissed at 12:30. After this planning day, we will share more details about what distance learning would look like for our district and how food would be distributed.
In addition, as we approach Spring Break, I want to reiterate important precautions regarding travel. The District, together with the Princeton Health Department, will be asking students or members of a household to self-quarantine for two weeks if they are returning from any country on the CDC’s Level 3 list of areas experiencing more widespread contagion. Currently those countries include China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. Additionally, local and federal health officials are advising against taking any cruises at this time. Please consult the CDC website regarding foreign travel if you need more information.
As we continue to take measures to ensure the physical health of our community, it is equally important to provide for our mental and emotional health – and that of our children. These are stressful times. As we think about and plan for worst-case scenarios, it is hard not to feel the fear and anxiety associated with those. That is natural. Nevertheless, it is in working calmly and collaboratively and in relying on the experience and advice of our health officials, that we will make the best decisions on behalf of our kids and all those for whom we care.
I will continue to provide regular updates as the situation and our responses evolve.
March 6, 2020
Princeton Public Schools continues to work with State agencies and local health experts to take appropriate precautions with regard to the coronavirus. While information and guidelines are continually being updated, we would like to share with you some of the actions our district has put in place.
1. Education Regarding Hygiene: Nurses have received instructions to teach elementary students about basic precautions, such as washing hands frequently and not touching anywhere above their neck (for example, nose, mouth, eyes). Adults should also follow these suggestions. Hand washing should last for at least 20 seconds (or singing “Happy Birthday” twice). It takes this long for soap and water to dissolve the virus’s protective outer lipid layer. At the middle and high school, health teachers are also doing additional lessons on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
2. Cleaning: Custodians are cleaning door handles, railings, and other frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis. The district technology department is implementing more frequent cleaning of computer keyboards. The inside of all buses are being cleaned on a regular basis. In addition, each school and the transportation department has received a special electrostatic sprayer that covers a wide area with a mild disinfectant. Not only does it kill corona and other viruses on surfaces, but its mist surrounds the surfaces making it more effective. Earlier this winter, PPS had two schools with high incidences of flu and these devices were used with great success to minimize illnesses. Click here to see a video of the sprayer in action.
3. Travel Precautions: With the cooperation of the Princeton Health Department, the district has asked individuals and families to self-quarantine if they have traveled to China or other high-risk locations and may have been exposed to the virus. Italy, Iran and South Korea are now also on the "Level 3" list of countries with widespread contagion. More details about this will be provided in a subsequent letter. In the meantime, please consult the CDC website about foreign travel particularly as you plan for future trips including any over Spring Break.
4. Responding to Illness: School nurses are working with the Princeton Health Department and our school physician to implement protocols and procedures in line with current guidance from the NJ Department of Health for any sick students and adults seen in the Health Office. This includes putting a mask on students and adults who have a cough or fever and difficulty breathing. We are also carefully monitoring daily attendance rates across all schools. Please know that our nurses will be following NJ Department of Health guidelines and sending students home if their temperature is greater than 100 degrees.
5. Monitoring Health at Home: We ask families and staff to be extra vigilant in monitoring the health of children and their own health. Students and staff should not return to school until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medications. We ask parents and guardians to follow the same guidance and not enter school buildings when sick to help limit the spread of all illness to the school community.
6. Remote Learning: We are developing plans for remote instruction should it become necessary to close our schools for an extended period of time. The district is working to assist families who may not have access to computers or internet service at home. PPS uses Power School Learning as our platform for digital learning. We encourage all parents to check now and confirm they can access their child(ren)’s class websites by logging into Power School Learning. More instructions are on our website.
If you haven't set up an account, it's a two-part process. First, set up your Parent Portal account. (Information with how to set up this account was sent at the beginning of the year.) If you need to confirm your access ID or password please reach out to your child’s guidance counselor. Once the Parent Portal account is set up, you can set up your Power School Learning account. If you need to reset your password for Power School Learning, please email the technology assistant at your school.
7. Social Distancing: We are encouraging our students and staff to avoid shaking hands and instead find other creative ways to greet one another, for example fist bumps, elbow bumps, waves and bows. This simple form of “social distancing” helps to curb the spread of any virus. Our local health officials will advise us if other forms of limiting contact need to be implemented, but at this point we can proceed with extracurricular activities, assemblies and other gatherings.
Thank you for your commitment to the wellness of our students, staff and community. We will continue to update you on the measures we are taking to promote safety and well-being in the Princeton Public Schools.
PPS Coronavirus Update 2-28-2020
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
At this time, the Center for Disease Control is indicating that the risk of infection from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is low in our area. Nevertheless, we want you to know that the municipality and the school district are actively engaged in preparing for any possibility of contagion here in Princeton. The CDC and the NJ Department for Health will be providing additional guidance next week for schools, and we look forward to sharing that with you.
In the meantime, our nurses continue to look daily at the number of students who are out sick; we continue to follow appropriate protocols for screening new students who have spent time in areas where the virus has been more prevalent; we have increased disinfectant procedures on our buses; and we are increasing our cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in our buildings, such as door handles, sinks, keyboards, and desks.
Perhaps the most important measures we can all take together are the everyday actions used to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease. These include the following:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Keep your children home when they are sick. (Children should not return to school unless they have been fever-free without medication for 24 hours.)
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
The district is working closely with the Princeton Health Department, our school physician and other appropriate authorities to ensure that we are following best practices and the most current recommendations regarding 2019-nCoV. We will continue to update you as we get more information.
Please find attached to this message a fact sheet about the Coronavirus. We also encourage you to check the CDC website for reliable and up-to-date information.
We appreciate your help in supporting the health of our schools and our community.
- District News