Letter from the Superintendent
Dear ASD Families and Community Members:
With the recent news about the Coronavirus and a growing community interest and concern, I want to bring everyone up to speed about what we know of the virus and inform the community of the precautionary measures the District is taking with our Municipal, State and Federal partners to be ready if the Coronavirus surfaces in Anchorage. At the time of this message, Alaska does not have a suspected, much less a confirmed, case of Coronavirus, and there are six confirmed cases in the lower 48. Still, I recognize that there is a risk, and I want the community to know that my staff and I take this seriously.
To begin, allow me to explain our understanding of the symptoms and the conditions that could result in Coronavirus screening of a staff member or a student. It is possible that these criteria could evolve over time, but this is what we know.
- A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher combined with lower respiratory illness (cough or difficulty breathing)
- Recent travel history to or from mainland China
- Contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have Coronavirus
I understand the concerns, but I want to emphasize that there’s no reason for your student to stay home from school unless he or she demonstrates these symptoms.
So what have we done, and what are we doing?
First, please know that the District’s Healthcare Services Department is directly engaged with the State Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Anchorage Health Department. This group of medical professionals and epidemiologists is meeting regularly by teleconference to monitor the virus, exchange information, and to provide guidance. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is also a participant in these events.
Information and guidance have been disseminated to school nurses. Your nurses have up-to-date information on the symptoms, screening requirements, and the actions to take in the event a student or staff member has the symptoms and meets the China-travel or personal-contact criteria. We’ve also distributed limited personal protective equipment to schools if it is needed.
My staff and I are happy to answer your questions, and I encourage parents to contact their school nurse, as they will have the most up-to-date information. You can also visit the Alaska State Dept. of Health and Social Services website for more information.
Finally, I want to thank you for your support and patience as we collectively monitor the Coronavirus and prepare. It’s the right thing to do. ASD is committed to providing the safest possible learning environment for students. I am ready to make decisions when necessary, but for now, I am confident that Coronavirus is not in the State or in our schools. My staff and I will stay engaged in this issue until it subsides, and we’ll keep you informed along the way.