FAQs for Education Setting – COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Our first priority at Thomas Carr College is the health and safety of our school community.
I want to reassure you that the school is well-prepared for the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
We are being provided the latest advice from the Australian and Victorian Chief Medical Officers by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd to ensure that our school practices are helping to keep our school community safe from the outbreak.

Any incidents that arise will be addressed in accordance with our Critical Incident and Emergency Management Plan. We will also have access to resources and support from Catholic Education Melbourne and the Department of Health and Human Services. I am aware of concerns about the disruption to teaching, especially among families of students in Year 12. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, which is responsible for the VCE, is aware of the situation and has advised that it will work with schools to ensure continuity of learning for all students.

As parents, you have a critical role in helping the school manage this situation:

  • Exercise good judgment by keeping children home if they are feeling unwell for any reason
  • Talk to children about the situation, as they may be feeling anxious or stressed. You have a key role in helping students feel prepared and safe
  • Encourage children to be proactive and committed to their schoolwork, and to stay connected with the school and their teachers.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a number of resources on its website, which explain the virus, detail risk-reduction practices and behaviours, and answer frequently asked questions. These are available at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus. You can also find information about Catholic education’s response at http://www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Coronavirus-information-for-parents. This is an evolving situation, but we will keep you updated as things change.

I ask that you continue to work closely with the school and to contact my office should you have any new concerns.

Thank you for your support as we work to keep our students safe.

Kind regards,

Craig Holmes

 

Facts about COVID-19

Over the past couple of decades, we have experienced a number of diseases that have received global attention, including SARS, swine flu, equine flu, Influenza A and now the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Although these outbreaks have become part of life, it is common to feel fear when we are told that a virus is deadly. Our brains can sometimes feel scrambled as we try and make sense of a situation that doesn’t actually feel or appear normal.

Both the flu and Coronavirus are spread through touch, saliva or a sneeze/cough. As advised by WHO and the Department of Health if you are unwell, consider ways you can reduce spreading the virus to others. If you have symptoms, book yourself in to see a GP at your earliest convenience. Hand hygiene is important – remember to sing your favourite song’s chorus (twice) as you wash your hands under hot soapy water, particularly before meal preparation or eating. Consistently practising strong personal hygiene habits may also help keep any stress about germs at bay if you are someone who lives and works with other people. If you are unable to get to a sink, you can always carry hand sanitizer. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and use a tissue. Freshen up on these precautions at https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov#prevention

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

 What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing). Individuals can also be infected from and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

Who is most at risk?
We are learning more about how COVID-19 affects people every day.  Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms.  As this is a new virus, we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?
There is no currently available vaccine for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and getting early care from a healthcare provider can make the disease less dangerous.

How can the spread of COVID-19 be slowed down or prevented?
As with other respiratory infections like the flu or the common cold, public health measures are critical to slow the spread of illnesses. Public health measures are everyday preventive actions that include:

  • staying home when sick
  • students should stay home if they have a temperature, been overseas in past 14 days, or been in contact with someone who has returned from overseas who has flu like symptoms
  • covering mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • dispose of used tissue immediately
  • washing hands often with soap and water; (This is more effective than hand-sanitizer if done thoroughly)
  • cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.

As we learn, more about COVID-19 public health officials may recommend additional actions.

Avoid or minimise watching sensationalised media about the virus outbreak. The more that you watch these types of stories, the more you will think about it, which will increase feelings of anxiety. Be wary about where you get your news from in times such as this. Visit a website that is known to be credible and bases its information on research (an example would be the Australian Government’s advice on Coronavirus https://www.health.gov.au/news/coronavirus-update-at-a-glance) (and/or the World Health https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/Organization

Washing hands properly
Step 1: Wet hands with safe running water
Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including backs of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds
Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water
Step 5: Dry hands with a clean, dry cloth, single-use towel or hand drier as available

Wash your hands often, especially before and after eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom/ toilets/latrines and whenever your hands are visibly dirty. 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.

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