School administrators monitoring and preparing COVID-19 response

Utica Academy of Science administrators are continuing to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies regarding the respiratory illness caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

At this time, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus in the school district. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the district, all members of the school community will be notified.

As the situation evolves, local, state and federal officials continue to update their guidance for school districts. The district’s administrative team has been meeting to discuss the district’s policies, procedures and emergency response plans to ensure the district is prepared to meet the needs of its students and staff members should the virus affect the UAS  community and the district’s operations.

Latest guidance regarding school closures

On March 9, the New York State Department of Health and New York State Department of Education released guidance that states if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, the state Department of Health requires an initial 24-hour closure of the school to assess the situation and develop a plan to as to any further required closure or other necessary precautions.

The latest state guidance says, “schools are not expected to make decisions about closing or canceling events due to COVID-19 on their own.” At this time, there has been no specific guidance regarding the cancellation of school events and large gatherings, and all school events will take place as scheduled.

In the event that the guidance changes, the district will provide as much notice as possible if it must cancel an event or close school. Notifications will be shared on the district website and via SchoolMessenger as soon as possible.

Proactive steps

The district has infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking steps, such as cleaning and disinfecting throughout its schools, to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.

There are a number of steps that students, staff and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health:

  • 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. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.
  • 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.

If you or a family member begin showing symptoms of a respiratory disease and suspect it may be COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Before going to your healthcare provider’s office, inform them that a case of COVID-19 is suspected, and follow their advice.

It is also important to remind everyone that exposure to COVID-19 can occur from any person-to-person contact and is not limited to a particular race or ethnicity.

The district will continue to share information as it becomes available on the district website. Any time-sensitive, critical information will be shared via the district’s SchoolMessenger notification system, which sends email, text message and phone call notifications, depending upon how parents subscribed to the system.