A lot of information is being presented in the media regarding the Novel Coronavirus. Thousands of people are affected in China and we, as school nurses are on the front lines, poised and ready to take action, should it become an issue here in New York State.
I attended the webinar that the New York State Education Department and New York State Department of Health held on Friday, February 7, entitled An Update for Pre-K–12 Schools on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The webinar provided an update on the outbreak, reviewed new guidance from the CDC, and answered questions about school-specific recommendations. The speakers included Brad Hutton, MPH, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health; Karen Hollowood, MSEd, BSN, RN, from NYSED; and Elizabeth Dufort, MD, MPH, from the NYSDOH. As of Friday there were 12 confirmed cases in the United States and no confirmed cases in New York State. Even though we were informed that we are still at low risk at this time we were reminded to keep our lines of communication open with our county health departments and make sure that they have our current contact information and that of our school district’s superintendents. The situation is changing daily and new information will be shared as it becomes available. There is a CDC web page and a hotline for questions specifically dedicated to addressing the Coronavirus https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ index.html. We are challenged at this time to review our infection control practices and plans for monitoring staff and students that are ill due to the increase in seasonal flu. Review the signs and symptoms of flu at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/index.html.
Attendees were encouraged to continue to promote everyday prevention strategies to stop the spread of the flu. One of the most important actions that school nurses can do is to promote proper handwashing with soap and water. Reminding our school community, students, and staff about how and when to wash their hands is very important https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html. Review the everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs and share them with your school community https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm. NYSASN will continue to pass along information as it becomes available to keep you updated.
Lou Ann Gleason, MSN RN