Close WPES due to COVID-19 & Safety Concerns

Close WPES due to COVID-19 & Safety Concerns

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Concerned Parent started this petition to Bedford Central School District

As concerned parents in the BCSD, we write this petition to urge you to make the responsible decisions to keep the students, and their families safe. The novel coronavirus has been identified as a deadly strain that is highly contagious. As you may know, nearby Westchester schools have been closing due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Many others, heeding the advice of the Education Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are preparing for long-term closures. 

In the past week, New York has declared a state of emergency with 142 cases reported in New York, and 98 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Westchester County alone. Inevitably, the virus will spread. With the nature of the virus, it is difficult to stop with typical sanitation procedures. Even purell with high alcohol content is limited in its effectiveness against the novel coronavirus. Handwashing is the primary method of prevention, however, it is only a viable solution if hands are washed after each time someone touches a potentially infected surface. This is near impossible in an environment such as an elementary school.

Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan, said research on past pandemics shows closing schools can help stop the spread of infectious disease but only if administrators act early.

“You have to do it before it spreads,” he said. “Young kids sneeze and cough and slobber on each other.” He said that even in an uncrowded classroom, children are close enough to spread disease. “There’s lots of reasons to consider school closure today.”

Since the virus has made its way to nearby towns, including, Bedford, White Plains, New Rochelle, Danbury, Somers and even the current suspected case in Fox Lane, I urge you to consider closing West Patent Elementary School. It is not too late to prevent an exponential increase in viral transmission.

At the moment, many Westchester residents have been exposed to COVID-19, but have not been isolated due to the discreet nature of the virus. Symptoms can remain undetected for up to 2 weeks, and unknowing young students can come home and pass it on to siblings, parents or grandparents. 

There is currently a staff member from Fox Lane Middle School who has been in contact with an individual who tested positive. As well as a Bedford Hills Elementary School student, with an extended family member who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Per the current plan in Bedford District, in the event of a student or staff member contracting and being diagnosed with the virus, the infected building will temporarily close for sanitation, as is currently being done in our district. Once sanitation is complete, the building will re-open and students will return. This plan fails to account for the following hypothetical:

Students return to school after cleaning. Student X is infected with the novel Coronavirus, but has not been diagnosed because they are not showing symptoms, as is typical in young patients. They touch their face with their hand, and their hand to any object or surface. Student Y then touches this same object. This student, Student Y, is now infected. In between classes, Student X and Y have talked to friends, touched desks, and drank from water fountains. Each of these objects is now infected and will continue to infect other students.

In the plausible scenario, the majority of students could be infected in one day and will return home to older parents and grandparents who are especially susceptible to the novel coronavirus. These infections and possible deaths could be prevented if schools are closed accordingly. 

There is no harm in taking preventative action against a clear biological threat to the health and prosperity of our community. It is only reasonable to respond with logical policies proven in their effectiveness to stem the source of this fear. Closing school should be the number one priority right now. With today’s technology, students will still be able to progress academically while keeping everyone safe; our kids, our teachers, and all the administrative people at the school. 

Please consider our request to act upon thoroughly researched data, warnings from the CDC, and the mistakes of other communities.

Please consider closing West Patent to keep our children and community healthy. 

Sincerely,

Concerned parents of the Bedford Central School District

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