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At the beginning of school closures, we, the ETHS Health Center staff, wrote a letter of recommendation on how to enact social distancing with school being out. Now that Illinois is beginning a phased re-opening, we are sharing an updated version of our original letter.
Our staff consists of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and members of the Evanston Health Department’s Advisory Council. Many of us are Evanston residents and parents of ETHS students and are addressing these very issues in our own homes.
This is an evolving situation and current recommendations are based on the best information that we have available on June 15, 2020.
Coronavirus/COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that might cause no symptoms in some people, fever and cold-like symptoms in others, and more rarely problems with breathing that could result in need of supplemental oxygen or ventilation support. It is very contagious and appears to spread through respiratory droplets and high-touch surfaces.
Respiratory spread means that people who have the virus can breathe out viral particles and if you are within 6 feet of that person, you can possibly breathe them in. If both people wear face coverings, the risk is reduced because the coverings block the virus from being expelled into the air.
With high-touch surfaces, objects that are touched by more than one person, the risk is if you touch the same object that an infected person touches and then you touch your eye or nose, you can give the virus to yourself. The more dangerous outcomes appear to occur in “vulnerable individuals” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or had close contact with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19, please isolate yourself from others and call your medical provider: fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, muscle aches, or loss of the sense of taste or smell. We are open at the Health Center and are available to help all ETHS students, please call us at 847-424-7265.
While Evanston has a lower number of COVID-19 cases than some of our neighbors, it is important to remember that the disease is still here and no matter what phase of re-opening is in place, until there is wide-spread vaccination or effective treatments, our main tools to slow the spread of disease and to protect the vulnerable remain the same:
So what does this mean?
Parents/Guardians, we can promote needed precautions without panic. While no one is at zero risk for being sick from COVID-19 virus, children and teens are at low risk for getting very sick. You can reassure your kids that we will get through this, together, and that your job is to help keep them safe, even if it makes them unhappy sometimes.
Teens wonder, “why should I not go inside people’s houses or have friends sleepover when it is unlikely that this disease will make me sick?” The idea of personal sacrifice to ensure that everyone stays healthy may be a new concept for them to consider. They can understand and can be motivated by the fact that their individual actions have the power to save lives.
The bottom line: If we all stick together and follow the same simple rules like good hand hygiene and social distancing, then we can continue our re-opening and get back doing to the things we love, like sports, travel, gatherings, and even school.
In Good Health,
Lynn Gettleman Chehab, MD, MPHPediatrician, NorthShore University HealthSystemChicagoland Children’s Health Alliance
Aimee S. Crow, MDPediatrician, NorthShore University HealthSystemChicagoland Children’s Health Alliance