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A Message from the Superintendent Regarding COVID-19; Update #3

Dear Belmont Families, Students, Faculty and Staff:

We understand that many staff, students and families have questions regarding the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and how it may impact the BPS Community. Massachusetts-specific information about Coronavirus can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.

We will continue to share public health information, such as letters from the Belmont Public Health Department, that are also added to the BPS website.  This letter is intended to address some questions you may have:

What are current health risks associated with Coronavirus?

Public health officials continue to state that the risk of being exposed to this virus within Massachusetts continues to be low at this time. As these experts remind us, we are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to Coronavirus.

Please remember that one reason this virus has been so wide-spread is that it is a new virus, and there is, therefore, no vaccine to help prevent dissemination. Like the flu, COVID-19 can make people very sick, but most people fully recover. 

If the disease were to begin spreading within Massachusetts, public health and education agencies are already working together to be prepared for this scenario. The Belmont Public Health Department, in partnership with the state health department, is following CDC guidance to track and monitor people who have recently traveled to high-risk areas outside of the U.S. 

We are not taking news of this illness lightly. In an abundance of caution, schools are shoring up sanitization practices and following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reducing the spread of illnesses.  

How can schools, staff, students and families help prevent risks associated with COVID-19?

Key points to remember:

  1. We can all avoid spreading germs through basic hygiene practices listed below:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
    • Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not with your hands), and wash your hands immediately after. Teach young children to cough into their elbow and to wash hands immediately after.
    • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. 
    • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.  
    • Stay home when you are sick, and do not send children to school if they are sick.
  2. In an effort to be proactive, the Belmont Public Schools will be disinfecting and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in all of our schools with hospital grade equipment. As you know this is the season for the common flu and our efforts will help reduce the spread of a number of problematic pathogens.

Belmont Public Schools will continue to monitor the medical risks of this virus. This is an evolving situation that must be followed closely from a public health standpoint. We will continue to monitor student and staff health concerns. We will also remain in close communication with the Belmont Health Department, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/School Health Unit, and other city agencies involved in emergency preparedness. 

Please contact your healthcare provider for all medical emergencies and health related concerns.  All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at (617) 993-2720.

In addition, a number of media stories have reported fears the public has regarding the virus, which are fueling anti-immigrant and anti-Asian bias. I want to encourage our community to come together around our shared values and help our children understand the impact of stereotyping and bias. If you or someone you know experiences any form of bias, discrimination, or bullying, I encourage you to reach out to your Principal. 

As always, I remain grateful that our community is a place where critical thinking, preparation, and kindness are equally valued. We are here to help one another, and we will get through this time together.


John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusett