Neshaminy High School, Buckingham Friends, Close as COVID-19 Precaution
Press Release from Bucks County
Neshaminy High School and the private Buckingham Friends School will close Tuesday for deep-cleaning as a safeguard against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), officials announced Monday night.
Neshaminy learned Monday that one of its students had contact recently with a person who later tested presumptively positive for the virus. Buckingham Friends, meanwhile, learned that one of its students possibly had come in contact with a different person who also has tested presumptively positive.
Both closings were described as precautionary; neither student has shown any symptoms of the virus, said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, who consulted today with both schools. The closings were relayed to families and staff via emails from Neshaminy Superintendent Joseph Jones III and Paul Lindenmaier, Head of School at Buckingham Friends. Both schools will be closed through at least Tuesday.
Neshaminy cancelled all afternoon and evening activities for Tuesday also.
The affected families have been asked to quarantine themselves at home for the time being, Damsker said.
Neshaminy joined a number of other schools and districts, largely in Montgomery County, in closing after it was disclosed Monday that a cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s King of Prussia location had tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized. A Neshaminy
High School student was among those who had direct contact with the doctor, Jones’ email said. “We will continue to stay in contact with the Bucks County Department of Health as this situation unfolds,” Jones wrote. “The safety of our students and staff is the top priority of (the) Neshaminy School District. We hope that by taking these measures now we can limit exposure to COVID-19.”
Montgomery County officials said at least 13 patients had been in contact with the cardiologist, adding that the doctor tested positive after visiting a country where the virus is active. The country was not named.
Ten presumed positive cases of COVID-19 have now been identified in Pennsylvania: seven in Montgomery County, one in Delaware, Wayne and Monroe Counties. There have been no deaths, and Bucks County has yet to have a positive test result.
The Buckingham Friends closing was prompted by different circumstances, but also was not the result of community spread of the virus. Lindenmaier said a student and family members had been present at a gathering out of state that was attended by a person who later tested positive.
Like Jones, Lindenmaier said the school was not required to close by the county health department, but that it did so in an abundance of caution.
The school, which has 154 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, will be cleaned on Tuesday, he told families in his
email, but did not say when it would reopen.
The closing announcements came the same day five Central Bucks School District schools reopened after closing on Friday under similar circumstances. Tests performed on a handful of adults and students associated with those schools who had cold-like symptoms found no evidence of the virus.
All district schools and buses were deep-cleaned over the weekend. State and local health officials continue to urge residents to practice preventive steps such as:
Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
Avoiding close contact (within six feet) with people who are sick
Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth
Staying home when sick
Covering one’s coughs or sneezes with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash
Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with household
cleaning sprays or wipes
Wearing face masks during one’s daily routine is not recommended by the CDC as an effective preventive measure against COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. However, people with symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of an ill person in close settings should wear face masks.
The incubation period for a person exposed to COVID-19 – the time between exposure and first appearance of symptoms – is between two and 14 days. Those who have been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or those who have traveled recently to areas where there have been outbreaks, are asked to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days from the time of potential
According to Damsker, county health department continues to contact all travelers returning here from countries where there have been COVID-19 outbreaks, directing them to self-quarantine and helping them monitor for symptoms of the virus.
At this time, testing for COVID-19 can be conducted only at CDC and the PA DOH laboratory. It is expected that hospital and commercial labs also will have this capability soon.
County health officials are working with healthcare providers and PA DOH to determine on a case-by-case basis whether testing is appropriate. This is done in the interest of not depleting resources by testing every person who has a respiratory illness.
Much remains unknown about COVID-19, including fatality rates.
Early indications are that children are at much lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and, as with influenza, the
elderly and those with immunosuppressive conditions are at higher risk of severe illness.
Current reports of fatality rates are most likely overestimates, Damsker said, given that most of those infected have had either asymptomatic or mild infections. While that is positive news, he added, it makes the virus easier to spread unnoticed by those with minor or no symptoms.
Because there is currently no medication or vaccine for COVID-19, Damsker said, simple preventive steps such as good hygiene, avoiding sick people and staying home from work when sick are the best course of action.
Please continue to refer to trusted, credible sources of accurate and up-to-date information,
PA DOH: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx