Basic Information About COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms. Some usually cause mild illness. Some, like COVID-19, can also cause more severe symptoms.
Are all coronaviruses the same as COVID-19?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Please view the document at the bottom of this page for more information about the differences.
How is it spread?
COVID-19 is spread when people touch or breathe in droplets made when ill people cough, sneeze or talk. This can happen when someone is close to a sick person, within six feet. Rarely, people might catch COVID-19 by touching a surface that a person with the infection coughed or sneezed on, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. Coronaviruses can’t survive for long on surfaces, though, so this isn’t common.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza (the flu)?
COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms. Right now, influenza is still circulating in Oregon. It is a much more likely cause of cough and fever than coronavirus. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to flu and other respiratory viral illnesses. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Illness can range from mild to severe.
How can families and schools help to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19?
The Oregon Health Authority recommends that schools and districts take “common sense precautions” that help prevent the spread of all diseases. These can also be practiced by children and their families, and include:
- Keeping children home if they are sick until a fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine;
- Seeking medical care immediately if symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, become more severe;
- Covering coughs with a sleeve or tissue; keeping tissues and “no touch” trash cans close by;
- Washing hands often and keeping soap dispensers filled;
- Routinely cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched;
- If desired, wearing a face mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
The CDC is recommending non-pharmaceutical interventions. What does this mean?
- To slow the spread of COVID-19, and other respiratory infections (including flu and pertussis), families, students and staff can take every day non-pharmaceutical interventions, including:
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home when you are sick.
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Getting your annual flu vaccine (to protect against flu).
What is the Medford School District doing now?
We continue to monitor the situation closely and have been in near-daily contact with our local public health department and healthcare partners. While you may be hearing many different perspectives on what is happening or should happen, please know that we will use federal, state and local public health officials as our primary source of information and direction. A few of our mitigation plans that will be implemented as necessary include:
- Increased disinfecting by staff of “high touch” surfaces,
- Encouraging visitors and volunteers to wash their hands when arriving and leaving our schools,
- Discontinuing self-serve lunches,
- And continuing education of employees and visitors not to come to the facility if they have influenza-like symptoms.
- Additionally, employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines
Have any school children in the United States or Oregon been diagnosed with COVID-19, a novel coronavirus?
At this time, no school children have been diagnosed with the virus in the United States or Oregon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “preliminary data suggest that older adults and persons with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems might be at greater risk for severe illness from this virus.” Have any adults in Oregon been diagnoses with COVID-19, a novel coronavirus? Based on current information, the Center for Disease Control and our local and state public health departments consider that the risk to most Oregonians is low. You can review statewide tracking here.
What should I tell my child about the virus — if anything?
Families can check out the tools available at SAMHSA Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks.
What is next?
We will continue to provide information regarding prevention, responses, and resources to our school community. Please be assured that we will provide more information as it becomes available. We are committed to the safety of our students, our staff, and our community. We have no current plans to close or cancel school or classes.