Return to Headlines

OCS update to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

On March 10th, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus.) This will have several immediate effects on our school district.

First, it is important to note that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is NOT recommending pre-emptive closure of schools and childcare centers at this time. This recommendation reflects the current guidance that children are at a low risk of serious illness.  

Please know that the district has a committee consisting of staff from the district's Student Services Office, Operations Department, school nurses, school social workers, and the Orange County Department of Health. They are meeting regularly and are in constant contact with local and state health officials, receiving updates and recommendations. We will continue to update parents and families anytime we have important new information to provide.

District Actions

In response to guidance from the Governor and health officials: 

  • We are suspending ALL district-sponsored trips and events of any kind for staff and students, effective immediately, including but not limited to:
    • Artistic events
    • Indoor athletic events
    • Listen & Learns
    • All field trips including within district
    • Staff conferences and professional development
    • Note that at this time, outdoor athletic events will continue as scheduled pending further guidance from the North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA).
  • We are suspending the use of our facilities by all outside groups including those that have been arranged through facility use agreements.
  • We will continue to provide students with frequent opportunities to wash/sanitize their hands, including immediately before lunch.
  • With spring break quickly approaching, we are requesting that families not travel to places the CDC has deemed to be a high-risk area for widespread sustained transmission of the virus. If families choose to travel to one of the identified high-risk areas, we ask that they inform schools by telephone or email. Please note, as a result of such travel, per the Orange County Health Department, families may be subject to quarantine for up to 14 days. Upon notification, schools will work with district and county health officials to determine the appropriate actions.
  • The following procedures are being utilized by the district, beyond our standard cleaning procedures, to prevent the spread of communicable diseases:
    • Hand sanitizer stations, located throughout the buildings, are available and stocked with hand sanitizer solution.  Portable hand sanitizer stations will be added to the front entrance, cafeteria, and other high traffic area lobbies to provide additional access to students and staff to sanitize hands.
    • Custodial staff are cleaning multi-touch surfaces regularly throughout the day with an approved sanitizer.
    • Cafeteria dining tables are being cleaned with a sanitizer solution before the start of the breakfast/lunch period, during the transition period of students, and at the conclusion of the breakfast/lunch period.
    • Transportation staff will wipe down buses and seats with an approved sanitizer solution daily. 

Emotional Support for Students

All the news about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can be concerning for families and students. Here are some tips to help address your child’s social and emotional needs:

  • Create time to listen to and talk with your child. Be honest with your child and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to process.
  • Reassure children that adults at home and school are working to take care of their health and safety. If they have concerns, they should talk to an adult they trust.
  • Remind children that most people will not get (COVID-19) coronavirus. School and health officials are being especially careful to make sure as few people as possible get sick.
  • Try and keep routines as normal as possible. 
  • Limit the amount of exposure to television and social media regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
  • It is important that all students and staff treat everyone with respect and not jump to conclusions about who may or may not have COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
  • If your child seems distressed about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), please reach out to your school counselor, psychologist, or social worker for support. Additional resources to provide emotional support to children:
  • Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource (National Association of School Psychologists) 
  • Talking to Children About Coronavirus (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Students or staff who may have been exposed

Health officials assure us that a member of the Orange County Public Health Department will notify someone if they are at risk of exposure due to a confirmed COVID-19 (Coronavirus) case. 

If you believe you or an immediate family member may have been exposed to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) please call your local health department. In Orange County, you can call 919-245-2400. You should also call your doctor to inform them of your situation. Please do not go out in public until you have spoken to the health department or your doctor.

We understand that our families may have concerns about the potential impact of the virus. Please know that state and federal law prohibits the school system from sharing confidential information about students and employees, including a student or staff member’s country of origin, health status, places traveled or family members.  

Precautions to prevent the spread of germs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NC Department of Health and Human Services emphasize the importance of good hygiene practices and maintaining normal cleaning routines to fight germs and prevent the spread of illnesses. We are focused on the preventive measures outlined by the CDC, and ask that you do the same. These include: 

  • Staying home when you are ill.
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds each time. (Please note that the temperature of the water doesn't affect hygiene.)
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are ill.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Not reusing tissues after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Keeping your child home if they have had a fever, used fever-reducing medication, or experienced symptoms of illness within the past 24 hours.

Facemasks

The Orange County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 (Coronavirus). People should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. Please know that if your student comes to school wearing a facemask, school staff are not responsible for ensuring the student continues to wear it or wears it properly.

Health Department resources

If you have further questions or concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), you can view the following websites:

It is important that as a community we continue to support each other and care for one another.  Thank you.

Best regards, 

Dr. Monique Felder

Orange County Schools Superintendent