Local school system prepares for coronavirus

Published 9:21 am Friday, March 6, 2020

Carter County Schools are preparing for the coronavirus.

According to Beth Bare, coordinator of school health, officials have been following a guide provided by the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, to help them be ready if and when the virus enters the county.

“On Feb. 16 the CDC released guidance for K-12 schools to prepare and respond to the virus,” she said. “They issued two pieces of guidance, one for schools and communities to plan if there have been no cases, and the other is for when there has been a case. It is an interim guide because things change daily with this virus, and they don’t know how it’s going to act. But with this administration we have decided we are going to follow this interim guidance from the CDC.”

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The guide currently includes things like following basic hand washing techniques, explains that most respiratory illnesses will not be the coronavirus and that health officials will be providing additional steps if there is a case, emphasizes following absenteeism and also maintaining communication with school officials.

Bare said that school officials are currently following their basic procedures to ensure sickness is kept to a minimum, including sending children home who are ill and keeping them separate from fellow students.

Carter County Schools previously closed for three days last month due to an increase in illness that left teachers and even substitutes needing to stay home. Bare said that absentees have since returned to normal numbers as of now.

Of the 13 allotted snow days schools are permitted to use, Carter County is now one day over, however Bare said that should a virus outbreak, or another illness, that would warrant schools being closed occurs, this would not be impactful in that decision.

A board meeting took place on Thursday evening that involved preparation for the virus in the agenda. Additionally, in the coming days, school websites will be updated with information for parents and teachers on the illness.

“We’re going to do everything we can to prepare as a system and help educate the parents and students in the community,” said Bare.