PRIORITY NOTICE: Reminders for School Communities Regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Reminders for School Communities Regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus!

Please note that at this time Maine has no confirmed cases associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with, and with guidance from The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), issued information to School Administrative Unit (SAU) leaders last month about the coronavirus outbreak. This is a reminder and update of that information; we will continue to work with Maine CDC and provide updated guidance and information, as it becomes available. Schools and districts should review and keep their School Emergency Operations Plans up to date, including portions of the plan that address infectious diseases.

Information from the CDC:

Students or staff who recently traveled outside the United States who have respiratory symptoms or fever should inform their health care provider about their travel history. Health care providers should notify Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 and screen for routine respiratory illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

Maine CDC staff have been working closely with public health officials from the federal government and other states since the 2019 novel coronavirus was first identified in China. Maine CDC continues to offer guidance to the state’s health care community and other agencies, including Maine DOE, as the global situation evolves.

As part of that effort, Maine CDC created and regularly updates a webpage with information about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Visit the webpage at: www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus.

Additionally, this fact sheet (PDF) provides answers to common questions about the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that the immediate risk of contracting this novel virus remains low in the United States. The greater risk for Mainers at this time, is seasonal influenza and it is not too late to get the flu shot.

The best preventive measures for all infectious diseases include washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and staying home when you feel sick.

Updating School Emergency Operations Plans:

While Maine has no confirmed cases associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus, we are recommending that all schools review their Emergency Operations Plan with local public safety officials to make sure the team is familiar with the plan, update the plan if needed, and address any other improvements that may be required. Should your plan not have a section that addresses infectious diseases and continuity of operations, please take time to develop that plan with your local public safety partners (school nurse, Emergency Management Association, health services, law enforcement and other first responders).

Below are some helpful links to information on preparing your schools for a possible pandemic:

Should school emergency planning teams need any assistance with the development of their emergency plans, please contact the Maine School Safety and Security Center at  DOESchoolandStudentSupports@maine.gov.