The Wallkill Central School District is closing its schools through the weekend following Ulster County’s second confirmed case of coronavirus.
The county announced the diagnosis of COVID-19, the novel strain of coronavirus, Wednesday, three days after confirming its first case, a Town of Rochester man.
In a statement, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan did not specify where the second case is located but said there was potential contact between the person and Wallkill district employees. The county noted that closing the district would allow for cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities.
In a letter to Wallkill parents, Superintendent Kevin Castle said the individual from Ulster County was in close contact with a district student and an employee of a district contractor.
“In consultation with the Department of Health, it is being recommended that as a precautionary measure we close schools to disinfect all of our buildings and to also give time for local health officials to further investigate the case,” Castle said in his letter to parents Wednesday.
All extracurricular activities and evening programs are canceled for Wednesday, March 11, Thursday, March 12, Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15.
The District plans to open on its regular schedule on Monday, March 16. If anything changes, they will contact all families through their School Messenger System, their website and local media.
“We will continue to monitor this situation and will keep families informed if any new information develops,” Castle said in his letter to parents Wednesday. “If you have any questions, please call the Ulster County Department of Health at 845-340-3150, the Orange County Department of Health at 845-291-2332 or the NYS Coronavirus Information Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.”
Exposure to COVID-19 can occur from person-to-person contact. The District encourages families to continue taking steps to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The state Department of Health recommends people wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. They also caution people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. The Department of Health added that people should avoid close contact with those who are sick, a person should stay home when they are sick and everyone should cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. They also recommended that people clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
In addition, the District encourages students and their families to limit the time spent among groups of other people, such as gathering at a friend’s house, shopping center or restaurant. The Centers for Disease Control advises that this can help minimize the spread of illness.