November 14, 2022
Dear WPS Families,
The Commonwealth, the Northeast and much of the US are seeing increases in respiratory illness in infants and children. Some of these infants and children are requiring hospitalization for support with breathing and hydration. Emergency departments and other acute care health facilities have been managing significant increases in the number of patients requiring care.
Most of these illnesses are caused by respiratory viral infections, including common seasonal viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus and enterovirus, and influenza. Infants and children may be particularly susceptible to seasonal respiratory viral infections during the 2022-2023 fall and winter because they have had limited previous exposure to these respiratory viruses.
We anticipate that there could be more respiratory illnesses as RSV continues to spread and influenza season ramps up. RSV is highly contagious and is spread when:
- An infected person coughs or sneezes,
- You get droplets from a cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose or mouth,
- You have direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV,
- You touch a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands.
Individuals infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3-8 days and may become contagious a day or two before they start showing signs of illness. People with RSV usually show symptoms within 4-6 days after getting infected.
Symptoms of RSV include:
- Runny Nose
- Decrease in Appetite
- Symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once.
We want to remind parents and families about steps to take to prevent illness and stay healthy this season:
- Cover Coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact, shaking hands, and sharing cups or utensils with others.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.
- Avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes with unwashed hands.
- If you or your child are not feeling well, avoid social gatherings.
- Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever and cough is controlled.
We are taking precautions in school to prevent the spread of illness such as:
- Disinfection surfaces throughout the day and after school ends.
- Having students wash hands frequently, especially prior to eating, after using the restroom, after sneezing, coughing, or wiping/blowing their nose.
- Reminding students to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Encouraging parents to keep children home from school if they are not feeling well.
We appreciate your support at home in keeping our children and community healthy during this time. As always please reach out for any questions or concerns.
Superintendent of Schools
Westfield Public Schools
Fawne St. Pierre
Supervisor of Health and Safety
Westfield Public Schools