“District 91 is taking proactive and preventative measures to prevent the spread of [coronavirus] and the flu,” said Superintendent Lou Cavallo in a March 3 memo to parents. The information, posted on the school’s website, states that the district is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on stopping the spread of viruses. The district also recommends families follow the same recommendations at home.
These steps include disinfecting all hard surfaces, such as doorknobs and desks, at night and throughout the day. Schools will also give students opportunities to wash their hands frequently and will teach them the correct way to do it.
Other preventive measures mentioned are:
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick and do not send your child to school if he or she is sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and immediately wash your hands. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
The memo also mentions that the school district is keeping up to date on the coronavirus outbreak locally as well as nationally.
On March 4, River Forest’s Dominican University students received notification that a student who had been in contact with a patient undergoing treatment for coronavirus did not test positive for the virus.
According to the statement, “The test approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health confirms the student did not contract coronavirus (COVID-19). The institution will continue to walk alongside the student and is thankful to the campus community for the collective response and outpouring of care.”
The statement went on to say that the university is “working closely with public health officials at the local, state and national levels to monitor the spread of the virus.”
According to Thomas Gibbins in an article in the Dominican Star, the student newspaper at Dominican University, a statement went out to students on Monday, March 2 from Dr. Barrington Price, vice president of student success and engagement, stating that a student living off-campus had been in contact with a coronavirus patient. The statement indicated that the student was not showing symptoms and would be quarantined at home for another week.
Other Illinois schools have been affected by coronavirus scares as well. On March 9, ABC News reported that two Illinois schools had closed due to coronavirus. Vaughn Occupational High School in Portage Park is closed until March 18 because a teaching assistant had been on a cruise ship, returned to work and later tested positive for the virus.
Loyola Academy in Wilmette was closed March 9 for deep cleaning after learning over the weekend that a student had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
“We know this situation is unsettling,” said a memo on the school’s website. “However, canceling school on Monday allows us to do an enhanced cleaning of the school and to consult further with public health officials.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health has launched a statewide hotline at 1-800-889-3931 to answer questions about coronavirus or report a suspected case.