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West Hartford Superintendent Provides Update to School Community Regarding COVID-19

Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore. West Hartford Public Schools convocation. Aug. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Tom Moore, superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools, sent the following letter to the the school community Friday afternoon. A copy of the letter was provided to We-Ha.com, and is provided in its entirety below.

Submitted by Tom Moore

I wanted to reach out to all in the West Hartford Public Schools community to keep you informed about our current planning, and efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It is important that we all take this time to prepare for the possibility of disruptions caused by the spread of this disease, as we have seen this week here in the United States. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus 19 in Connecticut or in West Hartford, but we have seen cases in our neighboring states. We continue to take precautionary measures, however, including:

  • We are encouraging our students at all grade levels with posters, notes in bathrooms and near sinks, and lessons in our elementary schools to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Our custodians are thoroughly wiping down and cleaning our buildings every night, and during the day to stem the spread of health risks.
  • We are making available to our teachers disinfectant solutions and spray bottles that they can use to wipe down areas throughout the day in their classrooms.
  • Buses are being wiped down and cleaned nightly.
  • We are tracking student absences daily, looking for any spikes in any schools or neighborhoods.

In addition to these, we have also made some decisions about travel, as you might have heard. We have canceled our overseas trips for high school students in April, and any travel to areas where emergency situations have been declared. I know that this decision was not uniformly popular, and that it presents financial loss for some of our families. I truly hate to do it. I know the great educational value of travel, as I took students on seven different trips to Europe as a teacher. It would be irresponsible of me, however, to allow travel at this point in a situation that is changing so rapidly. We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds in regards to planned field trips or large gatherings in the coming weeks and months.

As I urged in my message last week, please help us to stay fact based in our sharing of information, and try not to instill panic, especially in our children. We have created a new page on our district website with resources, facts, and links to important messaging from the state Department of Public Health and the CDC in order to dispel myths and as a resource for any questions. Please bookmark the following link: http://whps.org/covid-19

I will continue to use our school messenger email system to stay in touch with all of you and to provide updates. Many residents of West Hartford, however, are not in our system, and the town might be reaching out to them also. The West Hartford Community Advisory Notification System provides town government with the ability to quickly provide residents with information about local emergency situations and other important community notifications. Residents can sign up to receive notifications on their home, cell or business phone, email, text messages, and hearing impaired receiving devices.  The West Hartford Community Advisory Notification System will be one of the ways that the town will provide emergency information about the COVID-19 virus should the need arise and we would like to have has many residents as possible on the system. Please share this information with relatives and neighbors who live in West Hartford but do not have children in our schools.

It is also important for residents to sign up for the CT Alert system. CT Alert is the statewide system that the State of Connecticut administers to notify residents about widespread emergencies.  A drawback to this system is that it only calls numbers that are listed in the white or yellow pages. It does not notify residents by cellphone or email unless they have signed up and provided a cellphone number or an email address. Residents must enter these numbers into the system.

Here are the links to the West Hartford Community Advisory Notification System and also the CT Alerts.

https://www.westhartfordct.gov/gov/departments/police/community_advisory_notification_.asp

https://www.ctalert.gov/ctalert/cwp/view.asp?A=3875&Q=458434

I believe that it is always important to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. My team has worked tirelessly over the past two weeks to cover all the bases, and many questions remain, with a lot of what ifs being thought about, including scenarios involving closings, cancellations, and distance learning. I will continue to be open and thorough in my communication to all of you, and will provide you with regular updates. Thank you all for your support.

Sincerely,
Tom

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