With schools across the Jersey Shore and New Jersey making the decision to close for precautionary measures amid the coronavirus concerns, Ocean County Health Officials want to make sure kids, parents and the whole community is being safe with school out of session in the buildings.

The Ocean County Health Department has been consulted by Ocean County School Superintendents regarding school closures.

“In consultation with and at the request of the Ocean County Superintendent of Schools, the OCHD has been made aware that they should be “consulted with” in the independent decision of a local school board of education to temporarily close school for an unspecified period of time," Dan Regenye, Ocean County Public Health Coordinator, said. "While the OCHD has no authority regarding this decision and has been provided limited guidance on this matter, it would concur with and support the decision of the independent school board of education to close schools in the spirit and intent of promoting social distancing. This concurrence and support is contingent upon the board of education having a plan that has been submitted to and approved by the Ocean County Superintendent."

"The Ocean County Health Department will continue to work with local school boards during the COVID-19 outbreak," Regenye said. "We’ve offered this same type of support in the past during the recent measles, H1N1 in 2009 and other health concerns and once again we’ll continue that same relationship moving forward.”

With the first and second presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Ocean County this week, Regenye and the OCHD are reminding parents and residents alike to practice social distancing to help contain the spread of illness.

Regenye said that it's important to ensure distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.

This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick, with underlying medical conditions.

“With large gatherings and events are being cancelled, people should take advantage of the warmer weather and make an effort to enjoy the outdoors as a family or in small numbers – a trip to the beach, walk on the boardwalk, and visit a park or your favorite outdoor spot," Regenye said. "Keep in mind the number is 6 feet away from other people in order to practice safe distancing.”

Regenye said that a school closure is implemented as a mechanism and strategy to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is successful when conducted properly.

A major point of emphasis for Regenye is reminding parents of children whose school has closed that social distancing does NOT mean the children participate in events and activities that continue to bring children together or in larger social gatherings.

"Social Distancing MEANS Social Distancing! Do not put those at highest risk in harm’s way! REMEMBER PUBLIC HEALTH IS YOU TOO! Everyone has a role to play in helping contain the spread of coronavirus and staying healthy"

Don't panic, just be smart.

Here are a few simple tips from the OCHD to remember:

• Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands.

• Stay home if you are sick and avoid sick people.

• Clean and disinfect regularly.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

• Get a flu shot - it's not too late to be protected. OCHD is offering FREE flu shots. (Call for an appointment.)

For the latest information on COVID-19, please visit the OCHD website www.ochd.org. Or call the COVID-19 Information Call Line at 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.

Additional Resources

CDC Coronavirus Page - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

New Jersey Department of Health Coronavirus Page - https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml

CDC Share Facts not Fear - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/share-facts-stop-fear.html Ocean County Health Department – www.ochd.org

Coronavirus questions are being handled by the health experts at the NJ Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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