The Westerly Sun

WOOD RIVER JCT. — No cases of the COVID-19 have been reported at any of Chariho’s seven schools, but with three people who had been on a Rhode Island school trip to Italy testing positive for the virus, the district is taking basic preventive measures.

A notice has been posted on the Chariho website, along with updates from the state health department as they become available.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Jane Daly sent a letter to members of the School Committee on Tuesday, describing the precautions the district is taking against the new coronavirus.

In addition to reminding students and staff of strategies to prevent the spread of germs, measures include making sure Ocean State Transit and Chartwells, which provide school bus and food service, ensure their cleaning procedures comply with district and Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines. Custodians are also being asked to pay special attention to sanitizing work surfaces and areas such as doorknobs, handrails, faucets and telephones. The district has stocked up on cleaning and disinfecting supplies.

The school nurse will stay in touch with parents of medically compromised students and notify them of any potential concerns, and student and staff attendance will be closely monitored.

The district’s emergency operations/crisis response team will meet Wednesday to discuss preliminary preparations for a possible health emergency in the district.

Daly, who has received only two phone calls from concerned parents so far, asked that parents contact principals if they have questions. “I want to thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this uncertain time,” she said. “Know we are being vigilant and responsive to provide a safe and healthy environment for our students to continue to thrive at school.”

Towns taking precautions

In Charlestown, Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz said he and Emergency Management Director Kevin Gallup had taken part in a conference call on Monday with the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“The conference call was an update on the two confirmed cases of corona virus in Rhode Island,” Stankiewicz said. “Both cases are linked to an overseas school trip to Italy sponsored by Saint Rafael Academy in Pawtucket that occurred in mid-February. The RIDOH focus is currently on the two individuals, one adult and one teenager, and persons that may have had direct contact.”

In addition to getting the latest information from the department of health, Stankiewicz said additional sanitizing supplies had been purchased for town employees. Those include hand sanitizer, spray disinfectant, and sanitizing wipes. 

“We are also changing the air filters at the Town Hall and police station to HEPA filters,” he said.

HEPA, or “High Efficiency Particulate Air” filters remove almost all dirt and dust particles from the air.

In Richmond, Town Administrator Karen Pinch said touchless hand sanitizer dispensers had been purchased and will be installed in the Town Hall. 

Pinch said she had also posted a message on the town’s FaceBook page asking residents who are ill to leave their tax payments in a drop box rather than pay in person.

“In consideration for our employees, and in light of the recent coronavirus, if you are sick, please leave your payment in the drop box at the front door,” the message states. “If you would like an email receipt, please include an email address where we can mail it.”

Hopkinton Town Manager William McGarry said that on Monday, he had asked employees in the Department of Public Works and Recreation department to purchase a large quantity of sanitizing supplies for town staff.

“The DPW, recreation and my office are spearheading efforts to supply employees with sanitizing products,” he said. “We not only distributed them to the five buildings, but to departments within each building to make sure they can keep virus-free. It’s a morale issue also.”

cGarry noted that employees who think they might be ill are being asked to stay home and that the March meeting of department heads had been canceled.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” he said. “You never know where these things are going to go.”


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