March 9, 2020

I wanted to provide you with an update regarding our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and visitors in regards to the flu season which has hit us in recent weeks, and provide information as well on the new virus known as the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Before we address what we are doing at St. James R-I Schools, I wanted to first describe what we know about COVID-19. It is a respiratory illness that originated in China in December of 2019. It is currently spread from person to person. This is done by air (coughing or sneezing), by close personal contact, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it followed by touching your own mouth/nose/eyes. The first case in the U.S. was reported on January 21, 2020. Over the weekend, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the first case in Missouri. As of Saturday, March 7, officials say the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has tested 26 individuals for COVID-19, including the presumptive positive case announced Saturday.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications can include pneumonia in both lungs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports symptoms of COVID-19 can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. If you notice symptoms, please see your doctor immediately. There are currently no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. 

CDC Recommendations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) always recommends the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine.

The St. James R-I School District values the health and safety of all students, and with that in mind, we will do the following:

  • Sanitize all classrooms daily. This will be done by hand. 
  • Sanitize surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as bathrooms, desks, countertops, doorknobs, and faucet handles. 
  • Ensure that our school buildings are properly equipped with disinfectants and supplies needed to clean all surfaces.
  • Ensure all buses are being regularly sanitized.
  • Work with school nurses, teachers, and administrators to provide increased training to all students on hygiene and preventative measures for Coronavirus and the flu.
  • Continue to update the community and parents with information from county health departments, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the CDC if things change. Our county health departments are in continual contact with state and national agencies and will be our guides moving forward if things change.
  • Send home any student demonstrating symptoms immediately.
  • Send home any staff demonstrating symptoms immediately.
  • Work with families to minimize any missed learning opportunities in situations when students are missing school due to illness.

What can you do? If you or your child is sick, please help by not spreading the illness to others. This means staying at home and avoiding public areas. Contact your doctor immediately. If you or your child has a fever, please stay home for at least 24 hours after you are no longer with a fever or when there are no signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). We will do all we can to ensure that there are no adverse effects on grades and learning.

To get the latest updates on the coronavirus, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html  

Here is more information on the coronavirus from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/novel-coronavirus/ 

Please feel free to contact our school nurses with any further questions regarding the flu season and COVID-19 updates.