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Staff report
12:56 pm CST March 4, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread, with multiple confirmed cases in Cook County, officials from six local school districts and officials from the villages of Northbrook and Glenview are working together to keep their communities safe.

Local leaders announced Wednesday, March 4, that they have formed the Glenview-Northbrook Coronavirus Task Force, made up of representatives from the municipalities, schools, township, park districts and libraries in the two communities.

The committee had its first meeting last week and will come together regularly to share information and resources about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the illness that it causes, according to information from the Village of Northbrook. Officials say in an emailed communication that the entities plan to take “consistent and coordinated action whenever possible.”

“We also are committed to providing accurate, timely and valuable information,” the email says. “To that end, expect to receive a joint weekly message each Friday for as long as there is concern about the novel coronavirus. A newly created web page will provide vetted information to help Glenview and Northbrook community members understand the facts and get answers to frequently asked questions.

“We will continue to update the page as necessary with more specific guidance in the event of confirmed cases in Northfield Township, and any protocols that our organizations and our communities as a whole will follow as a result.”

Those interested in additional resource information should visit glenviewnorthbrookcoronavirus.info.

Three people on the North Shore have reported exposures to the coronavirus, as of press time; however, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 or symptoms related to the virus have been reported by those individuals.
• The Village of Glencoe announced Wednesday, March 4, that an employee of its Public Works Department was in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus.
• Loyola Academy in Wilmette closed March 9-10 after a student at the school was exposed to the virus off-campus.
• A faculty member of Lake Forest High School entered a 14-day quarantine after being exposed to the coronavirus while attending a Chicago high school  where someone with the virus had been present the same day.  

There are 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Illinois, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 647 confirmed cases and 25 deaths from the virus in the United States, as of press time Wednesday, March 11. 

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 118,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 4,200 deaths linked to the virus, as of press time. There are confirmed cases in at least 114 countries, according to WHO statistics.

The superintendents of Glenbrook High Schools District 225 and feeder districts 27, 28, 30, 31 and 34 also recently sent a message to parents informing them of their joint efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to their schools.

“This collaboration will help us be aware of our local conditions, share resources and expertise, and be prepared should an outbreak occur,” the letter states. The letter is signed by superintendents Dr. Charles Johns, District 225; Dr. David Kroeze, Northbrook District 27; Dr. Larry Hewitt, Northbrook District 28; Dr. Brian Wegley, Northbrook/Glenview District 30; Dr. Erin Murphy, West Northfield District 31; and Dr. Dane Delli, Glenview District 34.

All six school districts are following guidelines from the Illinois Department of Health and the Cook County Health Department, and they are continuing to communicate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on prevention and response measures, the letter states. The districts are following almost a dozen prevention measures, according to the letter.

The preventive measures districts are utilizing, which are similar to those followed during flu season, are:
• Staff regularly wipe down frequently used surfaces in the classroom.
• Custodial crews do additional disinfecting throughout the building during the day.
• Custodial staff use spray disinfectant each night on desks, tables, handles, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
• School nurses monitor student illnesses and work with individual families, as needed.
• Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands frequently during the day.

We ask that you take action — for yourself and your children — to help prevent the spread of illness:
• If your child is sick, please keep them home from school until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
• Wash your 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 available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The districts are also working with officials from the villages of Northbrook and Glenview to create contingency plans in the event of an outbreak in the region. Officials are exploring whether to close schools as part of those plans, according to the letter.

The IDPH launched the Illinois Novel Coronavirus Hotline and email account at 1-800-889-3931 or dph.sick@illinois.gov in an attempt to provide up-to-date information.

In a communication sent by District 30, Wegley said he and other local superintendents will continue to keep residents informed as this situation evolves.