Information on the Novel Coronavirus

Posted by Tracy Jentz on 3/5/2020

Cold and influenza (flu) season in the Midwest is in full swing. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, body or muscle aches, fatigue/tiredness. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer the following proper precautions to keep you and your families healthy:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before leaving home, on arrival at school/work, after using the restroom, before food preparation, before eating any food (including snacks), and when arriving back at home.
    • For young children, suggest they hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice from beginning to end twice while washing their hands. This video ( from the CDC is a great resource to show young children.
    • If soap is unavailable, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub the sanitizer over all the surfaces of your hands, which also takes approximately 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the garbage, and wash your hands. If a tissue is unavailable, cough/sneeze into your flexed elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not send your student to school if they are feeling sick. See “When to Stay Home from Work or School” for more information.
  • Influenza vaccinations are still available, which you can obtain through your student’s health care provider or at Grand Forks Public Health (Tuesday/Thursday/Friday by appointment - please call 701-787-8100).

The flu season has been complicated by a cluster of respiratory illnesses caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Recent reports in the media have increased awareness and concern. We are working with Grand Forks Public Health, Altru Health Systems, and other entities on receiving information through regular updates as this evolves. 

We want to provide you with some basic, but important, facts regarding the novel coronavirus:

  • It was first identified in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in China.
  • There are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Dakota.
  • The North Dakota Department of Health has provided information to healthcare providers to rapidly identify any possible cases.

Grand Forks Public Schools is taking a number of precautions, which include: 

  • Promoting and reinforcing proper handwashing, which will include hanging posters by handwashing sinks,
  • School nurses sharing information about proper handwashing with our students and employees,
  • Having hand sanitizer widely available throughout our schools,
  • Checking our cleaning product inventory and purchasing additional materials as needed,
  • Custodial teams increasing sanitization of high-contact surfaces,
  • We will also monitor absentee patterns and share information with Grand Forks Public Health in the event the novel coronavirus is found in Grand Forks, which at this time has not taken place.

For more information, please visit the websites for the CDC ( or the North Dakota Department of Health ( If cases are identified in our community, we will work closely with medical experts to determine the next steps.

We work every day to keep your students and our employees healthy from all viruses that contribute to illness and appreciate your continued support in doing the same. We will share updates when new information or guidelines need to be communicated.

Thank you,

Grand Forks Public Schools