School districts across the country have begun updating their emergency plans after federal officials warned that the COVID-19 virus is almost certain to begin spreading in the United States. Some schools are preparing for closures that could last for weeks while working to tamp down fears among students, parents, and teachers.
Even though President Donald Trump has worked to minimize the fears over the coronavirus, on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, he also recommended that schools start planning for the arrival of the COVID-19 virus “just in case.”
“It’s the perfect time for businesses, health care systems, universities, and schools to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off, and make sure that they’re ready,” Trump said Wednesday at a White House news conference.
Besides canceling trips abroad and preparing online lessons for students in the event of school closures. Following the temporary emergency closing of Bothell High School in Seattle, Washington, schools are using similar tactics as hospitals and health clinics in the U.S. – steadily preparing for new infections.
Some schools are taking a unique approach to a possible health crisis, reports The Hill. Miami school superintendent Alberto Carvalho reportedly said that the Miami-Dade County School System is preparing 200,000 laptops and tablets to send home with students in the event of school cancellations.
Miami has also set up a separate registration process for new students who potentially had exposure to COVID-19. School custodial staff have also been advised on paying particular attention to cleaning frequently touched locations, like doorknobs and bathroom facilities.
“If there is one place where contagion can actually spread, it can be the schoolhouse,” Carvalho said in a news conference. He added that the school district is adding hand sanitizers in school buses and at entrances, exits, cafeterias, gyms and other areas where students congregate in schools, he said, according to the Miami Herald.
The American Association of School Administrators, in an open letter to school districts, encouraged “common sense strategies” like preventative hygienic practices to combat any coronavirus spread and develop a system to report any potential cases.
Many school districts provide meals for children of low-income families, and many working parents rely on after-school programs or use their schools’ child care programs, said Francisco Negrón, chief legal officer for the National School Boards Association. The group is urging school leaders to discuss those issues with local authorities and develop contingency plans.