Message from the Headmaster: Coronavirus

To the members of our community:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Novel Corona virus to be an international public health emergency, which ensures alignment between countries and recognizes that multiple counties may be affected. The risk in Canada remains low. However, people become understandably worried and so want to know what our school is doing to help.

At Meadowridge, we follow closely the advice of the WHO, the CDC, and the provincial and local Health authorities. Some measures that we have taken are the same measures that we have used in the past for influenza infection control, and control of the spread of many other viral infections.

They include:

  • an increase in disinfecting common surfaces, 
  • using verbal welcomes instead of handshaking, 
  • reminding our students of handwashing and keeping hands away from the mouth and eyes, 
  • reminding everyone that coughing or sneezing means that one should cover their mouth with their arm or a tissue, 
  • providing  hand sanitizers throughout the school as an adjunct to hand washing.
  • any student or staff who appears to be ill, most often from a flu or cold, is asked to stay at home and to see a health provider.
  • any person coming to school who appears to be ill is sent home.

In the message from the Provincial Health Officer below, she notes that masks are mostly useful for those who are already sick, and for medical personnel; the use of masks as prevention has not been demonstrated and may provide a false sense of protection. Remember, hand washing is the most effective thing that people can do. And, as always, we should all stay healthy through eating well, getting enough rest, and getting appropriate exercise.

Our school is committed to providing the best possible environment for our children, one based upon the best medical advice available. Please see the message below for reliable sources of information for families and schools.

Thank you,

Hugh Burke
Headmaster

This message was originally sent out as an email on January 30, 2020

 

The following message is from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Federation of Independent Schools’ Associations. It is sent at their request, as it may be helpful to families and staff.

School District and Independent Schools' message - Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced on January 28 that the first case of novel coronavirus has been confirmed in B.C. Further details from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education are available here.

We understand our students, faculty and staff may have questions about coronavirus.

We can assure you that we are in regular communication with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and our local health authority to make public health decisions, and to ensure students and employees are kept informed and safe. We will continue to be in close contact with public health officials and, with that in mind, would ask that you do not make assumptions about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

False “news” regarding coronavirus is starting to circulate on social media. We would encourage students, staff and their families to refer to official sources such as the BC Centre for Disease Control for the latest information and updates: http://www.bccdc.ca/

Reducing the risk

The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends that to reduce the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus, employ the same measures that are taken in relation to colds and flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water (it is the single most effective way of reducing infection spread).
  • Practice other good hygiene habits: do not touch your face/eyes/mouth with your hands, and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough (ideally with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched workspace surfaces.
  • Maintain good general health (eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise in moderation).
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • A new toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Service is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. until January 29 and from 7 a.m. to midnight starting January 30 (Eastern Standard Time).

Further information about novel coronavirus is available on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Advice for students and families considering travel:

  • Students and families considering travel to and from China are encouraged to consult the Travel Health Notice for China on travel.gc.ca regularly, as recommendations may change over the course of your travel as new information becomes available.
  • No matter where students and families plan to travel, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that they consult travel.gc.ca, which is the Government of Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information. It provides important advice to help travelers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad.
  • Students and their families should always tell their health care providers about their travel history if they become ill after returning to Canada.
 
Advice on masks from Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry

“The thing about masks is we know that they are very important in certain situations. If I'm sick, my wearing a mask keeps my droplets in. It does help prevent transmission to other people. That's why we ask somebody who's sick, who's going to an emergency department, for example, if you have a cough or respiratory symptoms, we ask you to put on a mask and clean your hands.
 
“We also know that it's really important for health care workers to wear masks when they're assessing people because we're getting very close to people. We're doing things like sticking nasal pharyngeal swabs down their throat and that can make people cough. They need to wear masks and eye protection as well. We know they're very effective at that.
 
“Where it's not known is how effective wearing a mask in the community is when you are not sick yourself. The masks may give you a false sense of security. The most important thing that you can do in the community is to wash your hands regularly. The viruses like this need to be inhaled into your lungs -- same with influenza and RSV that we're also seeing quite a lot of here in Vancouver, and also in China, I might add. The vast majority of the people that we're seeing who have come from China who have symptoms don't have this coronavirus. They have all of the other respiratory viruses that we see this time of year."

"Really important is to clean your hands regularly. If you're touching something and it has droplets on it with virus in it, as long as you clean your hands before you touch your face or your mouth, you're not going to be at risk of getting that virus in your body. It's not something that comes in through the skin. It needs to get into your mucous membranes and breathed into your lungs. That's really important -- covering your mouth when you cough so you're not exposing other people. If you are sick yourself, stay away from others. Contact your health care provider ahead of time so you can be safely assessed.”