COVID-19 Communication - March 8, 2020
Dear BHUSD Community,
I hope you had a restful weekend. We want to alert but not alarm you that the number of COVID-19 test kits will likely increase exponentially this week. This may result in many more diagnosed cases. The risk is the same as right now however, the ability to diagnose new cases will give us a much better picture of where we stand in regards to confirmed cases of COVID-19. Please remember that we have plans and protocols in place and we will continue to work side by side with the CDC, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and LACOE to remain prepared and keep you updated.
Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel the 4th Grade day trips to Sacramento this week. Over the weekend some school Districts in the Sacramento area decided to close and as always, the health and safety of our students come first. Will will continue to monitor all planned school trips and events and inform you if any further changes are made.
Good News - We now have a dedicated area on all school websites and the District website for COVID-19 Updates. We have deliberately waited to do this as it is paramount that I convey to you that the CDC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are the best places for you to obtain up to date, verified information pertaining to COVID-19.
The new website area includes all District Communications about COVID-19, a Toolkit for How to Talk to Kids, an FAQ, Spring Break protocols and other helpful information. Please visit bhusd.org/COVID19/ to access this.
As Laura Chism, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, communicated in our update last week, it is inevitable that someone from BHUSD will be exposed to the risk of COVID-19. However, it is important to note that we unknowingly are exposed to threats to our health every day. We will remain vigilant about investigating all reported cases. For example, last week it was brought to our attention that a group of our students from BHHS privately attended the AIPAC conference in Washington DC. Notable political figures including Vice President, Mike Pence, spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy conference.
According to AIPAC President, Betsy Berns Korn, “another group of attendees from New York was potentially in contact prior to the conference with an individual who contracted the coronavirus. The individual did not attend the Policy Conference. The group has been added to the self-quarantine list.” AIPAC worked closely with the DC Department of Health to assess the risk to the other 18,000 attendees of the conference. The DC Health Department considered it a low-risk exposure.
At that time (March 5) BHUSD decided not to recommend self-quarantine for the conference participants as per the guidelines from the CDC and DC Health Department. No student reported coming in contact with these specific people amongst the 18,000 other participants, nor did they report any symptoms of illness.
On Friday, March 6, the District of Columbia Health Department announced that two people who participated in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference tested positive for coronavirus.
The District of Columbia Health Department stated, “Based on our investigation thus far, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH), there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time,” in the release they went on to say “DC Health has been in communication with NY about the two positive cases. They were asymptomatic, meaning they were not experiencing symptoms like fever or cough, while they were in DC. The information provided to us by NY indicates that both cases have no identifiable risk for anyone exposed to them.”
The DC Health Department released the following similar statement:
“Based on our investigation thus far, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH), there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time. All attendees and members of the public are urged to follow the well-established prevention tips like staying home if sick and calling ahead to a health provider if experiencing symptoms. We will work with AIPAC leadership to keep all attendees informed of any new developments.”
BHUSD learned on Saturday, March 7, that 30 George Washington University students who also attended the conference were advised by The DC Health Department that they did not need to self-quarantine. As situations of BHUSD exposure arise each one will be handled on a case by case basis.
We will continue to update you as more information becomes available, especially before Spring Break.