‘Together we can stay safe’: Queens senator urges city DOE and private schools to be prepared amid coronavirus outbreak

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Courtesy of Addabbo’s office

As the coronavirus continues to spread in New York, state Senator Joseph Addabbo is ensuring his constituents that the New York City school system is prepared to protect the health of students and faculty in the event of a larger outbreak.

Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee, says there are certain measures that all schools can take to educate their students on the virus and how to prevent its spread.

Addabbo, who continues to be briefed on a local, city, state and federal level, said the most recent data shows that the coronavirus can stay on surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic for as long as nine days. Coupled with an incubation period of up to 14 days, teachers and students alike must be consistent with protective hygienic measures and habits.

“I want to urge the NYC Department of Education and our private school system to take precautions against the spreading of the coronavirus,” Addabbo said. “If a student or teacher is feeling ill, they should not come to school and risk infecting others. Instead, they should go to their doctor for a proper diagnosis and return to school only when feeling back to normal. It is our responsibility to take this health crisis seriously and do all that we can to prevent its spread.”

Addabbo added that the main thing teachers should do is discuss the importance of students washing their hands with soap and water and to cover their coughs and sneezes in their elbow or into a tissue, as this is the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Teachers should also be disinfecting all devices and equipment used by students, especially shared equipment such as calculators, musical instruments, whiteboards, markers, gym equipment, mats and other surfaces after every period, Addabbo said.

Additionally, schools themselves should consider obtaining hand sanitizing dispensers and refills for multiple common areas including the main office, cafeteria, library, bathrooms and hallways to protect students and staff, as well as surgical masks for potential use by the kitchen and serving staff and for use by students if need be in the future, the senator added.

In order to combat the outbreak, the city Department of Education is hiring an additional 85 school nurses to ensure every district school building has a full-time nurse by the end of the week; all international school trips have been canceled for the remainder of the school year; and DOE has also sent a survey to nonpublic schools to help identify shortages of paper towels, soap, hand sanitizers and medical supplies, and will distribute materials to any school experiencing shortages.

“We need to make sure that we are prepared for, not scared of this coronavirus,” Addabbo said. “If the public panics, it just makes matters worse as this situation continues to evolve. The public needs to remain vigilant, informed and should continue to exercise basic precautions while going about their lives such as washing hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Together we can stay safe from this virus and keep others safe as well.”

Residents can call 888-364-3065 where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

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