We will also be sending out a survey to families regarding School nutrition needs at some point tomorrow. I ask that you please respond to that survey as quickly as possible (when it is sent out) as the results of that survey will help us to determine how our satellite school nutrition program for families in Gorham will operate.
Finally, I wanted to be clear that although staff will be at our schools tomorrow, the schools will be closed to the general public. If you need to conduct business with anyone at the school, I ask that you please reach out to the building principal before coming to the school. Individuals who have not previously made arrangements with the Principal's office will likely not be admitted into the school as a means to help reduce the risk of exposure to our staff who will be working on site all day tomorrow.
Again, for families, please know we care tremendously for all of you and we are working hard to put the finishing touches on the systems we will put in place to ensure our schools can continue to support our community even while "closed". Much more communication will be forthcoming over the next few days providing details on what this will look like and how to access these supports. We are right here with all of you, standing side by side and shoulder to shoulder.
As a means of providing specific information that I thought might be helpful to families, I asked our school district doctor (Dr. Tin) to write a letter that outlines some key pieces of information you should know and understand. Dr. Tin's letter is below. Please review and know I will continue to reach out as information becomes available. THANK YOU!
Dear Gorham Public Schools families,
As COVID-19 spreads throughout our country and in our community, I would like to share with you some thoughts as the school physician for Gorham schools. COVID-19, while causing mild respiratory symptoms for most, can be a serious and even fatal disease for many, particularly the elderly and the immune compromised. It will continue to spread for the coming weeks and months, potentially overwhelming our hospitals and health system. As a community, it is imperative that we do everything we can to help limit and slow down this spread.
One important measure we can all take is to practice social distancing, or consciously reducing close contact between one another. There is a large window of time in which someone can feel and look well but still carry and transmit the disease, as the incubation period is 2-14 days. As schools close and many public events are canceled to help contain the pandemic, we will be craving social interactions. I encourage you to avoid large gatherings such as sleepovers, parties, large group sporting activities, etc., outside of school and to keep a distance of at least 6 ft. from others when out in public. There is varying guidance on what defines a large gathering. Some health experts recommend limiting the group size to 25; others suggest no more than 10 people. The “right” number isn’t known, but the more we can reduce the size of gatherings and maintain our distance, the better chance we have of cutting off the virus’ pathways to spreading.
Another important and proven way to decrease the spread of contagious diseases is to practice good hygiene. I encourage you use this opportunity to review the following guidelines with your children:
Many of us are grappling with how to manage social isolation and increased anxiety. Some ways to reduce social isolation include going outside for exercise (while maintaining social distance) and connecting virtually (FaceTime, etc.). Many are also wondering how to speak with our children about COVID-19 and the associated lifestyle changes. I think the two articles below have nice answers to many common parenting questions. As parents, we must be calm, provide reassurance, and share information in an age-appropriate manner.
Finally, if you do develop any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.), isolate yourself and contact your primary care provider for guidance and before going into the clinic.
These are difficult and anxiety-provoking times, and many of these changes in our lifestyles are burdensome for individuals, families and communities. Know that your teachers, school administrators and other local officials are working hard to lessen the impact, particularly for the most vulnerable. By implementing social distancing and proper hygiene as much as possible, we can all make a real difference in the spread of this disease in our community.
Tin Ha-Ngoc, MD
Gorham Public Schools