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Coronavirus update: Schools, groups take precautions

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Out of an abundance of caution for public health and to mitigate any potential spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, Bucks County Community College is suspending all events from noon Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 22, and temporarily closing all locations from March 14 through March 22 to allow for deep cleaning.

“Although no COVID-19 suspected cases have been connected to the college, we decided to take this opportunity to allow our custodial staff to completely disinfect all offices, classrooms, and facilities,” said Stephanie Shanblatt, Ph.D., college president. “The health and well-being of our community is of utmost importance to the college, and so we wanted to take a proactive role to try to mitigate the potential spread of this unprecedented virus.”

The college will be closing all campuses – the Epstein Campus at Lower Bucks in Bristol, the Newtown Campus, the Upper Bucks Campus in Perkasie, and the Public Safety Training Centers in Doylestown and Croydon.

The closure overlaps the March 16 to 22 spring break for credit students. All noncredit continuing education classes scheduled during this time are canceled or postponed. Ticketholders for events in the Zlock Performing Arts Center will be contacted with more information. In addition, all college-related conference trips and travel for students and staff are suspended until March 31.

Any updates will be posted on the college’s website page dedicated to COVID-19 at bucks.edu/coronavirus.

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Buckingham Friends, Neshaminy close as COVID-19 precaution

Neshaminy High School in Langhorne and Buckingham Friends School in Lahaska closed Tuesday for deep-cleaning as a safeguard against the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the County of Bucks said.

Neshaminy learned Monday that one of its students had contact recently with a person who later tested presumptively positive for the virus. Buckingham Friends, meanwhile, learned that one of its students possibly had come in contact with a different person who also has tested presumptively positive, according to a county news release.

Both closings were described as precautionary; neither student has shown any symptoms of the virus, said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, who consulted with both schools. The closings were relayed to families and staff via emails from Neshaminy Superintendent Joseph Jones III and Paul Lindenmaier, head of school at Buckingham Friends.

The affected families have been asked to quarantine themselves at home for the time being, Damsker said.

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Bucks IU holds flu and coronavirus planning forum

The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) hosted more than 100 school and agency leaders in Doylestown March 6, to pro-actively address future planning related to the flu and coronavirus.

Personnel attending were from multiple counties and represented 34 different schools, school districts, Career Technical Centers (CTCs), Intermediate Units, and regional agencies.

The event allowed staff from job-alike positions to share and openly discuss issues related to the current flu and coronavirus situation, with the goal of developing action items and considerations they could utilize as they refine or develop their own action plans regarding this growing concern.

“The Bucks IU proudly acts as a regional hub for conversations and the sharing of best practices for schools and community leaders. During this time, we felt it was important to schedule an opportunity for school leaders to come together to have conversations,” said Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU executive director.

The sessions were based on the following areas of interest: Cleaning Best Practices; Human Resources & Business Operations; Student-Related Considerations / Pupil Services / Assessment; Nursing/Student Health; and Communications.

The meeting structure is already being mirrored in like sessions scheduled for elsewhere in the state for next week.

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State’s major health insurers are covering COVID-19 testing

Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that all major health insurers providing comprehensive medical coverage in the commonwealth will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing.

“First and foremost, the commonwealth is prepared for and focused on mitigating COVID-19 inour state,” Wolf said.

Pennsylvania’s major health insurers, all of whom have committed to take this critical step, are Highmark, UPMC Health Plan, Geisinger, Independence BlueCross, Capital Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Pennsylvania Health & Wellness, and Oscar.

This increased access to testing is especially critical as multiple commercial medical labs are in the process of implementing testing capabilities and some have begun to perform tests.

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Hopewell Theater details coronavirus protection measures

Hopewell Theater Founder and Executive Director Sara Scully sent out an eblast Tuesday to inform patrons of the measures the theater is taking in light of the coronavirus.

“My team and I are monitoring daily, official local, state and federal health websites to obtain the most up-to-the-minute information to ensure the actions we’re taking are comprehensive and appropriate for public gathering spaces,” her email states.

Scully said those actions include cleaning before and after every Hopewell Theater event according to CDC guidelines, with a disinfectant on all surfaces, tables, railings, doors and knobs; ensuring employees wash and sanitize their hands frequently; and wear gloves when cleaning.

Staff has been directed to stay home if sick and will be paid for their sick time off work, including hourly employees.

Patrons who cannot attend a show for which they have purchased tickets will be given the flexibility to swap tickets for free, for a ticket to any other show at any time, or simply get an account credit. To do so, call the box office at 609-466-2026.

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Although the virus that causes COVID-19 does not appear to pose a threat to cats, Tabby’s Place feels a keen responsibility to their human caretakers. Tabby’s Place’s 100-plus feline residents depend on 13 staff, over 200 active volunteers ranging in age from 12 to 80-plus, and hundreds of weekly visitors.

Given likely supply chain disruptions for veterinary medicine and other necessities, and the appearance of COVID-19 in communities within commuting distance of Tabby’s Place, the sanctuary has established a four-level SARS-COV-2 Emergency Plan to protect its team and supporters from illness while minimizing impacts on the cats.

Tabby’s Place’s Emergency Team has identified specific triggers for each response level. As of March 6, given confirmed COVID-19 infections within 60 miles of Tabby’s Place, the sanctuary was at Level 2, with an emphasis on reducing exposure to infection spread. In addition to stockpiling critical supplies and taking measures to reduce resource requirements, the sanctuary has canceled off-site events and intensified its cleaning protocols and frequency of communication with staff and volunteers.


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