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COVID-19: Staffer Self-Quarantines But Area High School Stays Open

Tappan Zee High School
Tappan Zee High School Photo Credit: Tappan Zee High School

A staff member at a Rockland high school whose children attend one of the Westchester schools closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak is under self-quarantine, though the school remains, open officials said.

South Orangetown Schools Superintendent Robert Pritchard alerted parents to the situation in a letter sent on Thursday, March 5 regarding the staff at Tappan Zee High School. Neither the staff member nor his family has experienced any symptoms.

According to Pritchard, the risk to students and staff is minimal and the district was advised to operate normally. All South Orangetown schools are in the process of being sanitized and additional cleaning operations are being put in place.

The outbreak in the Hudson Valley began with a 50-year-old attorney in New Rochelle, who spread it to his family, a friend’s family and a neighbor. 

Concerns over coronavirus have forced several schools to close, and canceled multple events, including the Rockland County YouthFest.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our residents, employees, and vendors who were scheduled to attend. While there are still no cases of COVID-19 in Rockland County, we know it is only a matter of time before there is a positive case,” Rockland County Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said. “I am once again reminding residents to adhere to the basics of good personal hygiene.”

A total of about 1,000 Westchester residents who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus remain in isolation, Cuomo said.

"New Yorkers should focus on facts not fear as we confront this evolving situation, and the facts do not merit the level of anxiety we are seeing," Cuomo said. "The number of cases will increase because it's math - the more you test, the more cases you find. We are testing more people, we are isolating anyone who may have come into contact with the virus, and we are getting people care if they need it."

Health officials said that in order to reduce exposure to germs, one should:

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash;
  • Avoid shaking hands;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick.

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