Local schools are preparing for COVID-19 amid concerns, fears, and close calls. The spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is making waves in the school systems. Schools in Fulton County are closed due to a confirmed case and while there are no confirmed cases, at least two districts have situations warranting a closer look with a couple of staff members and a student in quarantine.
While there are no confirmed cases in Pickens, Murray, Whitfield, and Gordon counties, local schools found they weren’t totally immune to the threat. There have been some close calls and situations that have some schools taking notice.
Murray County has a teacher, whose parents have COVID-19, and a student in quarantine, sparking concerns about how school systems will handle the illness.
Pickens County Schools had a brush as a paraprofessional ate at the same Waffle House in Canton as an employee who had the virus. The paraprofessional isn’t showing symptoms but is “self-quarantined” for the incubation period.
Most local schools have a contingency plan, but one district, Dalton Public Schools, is already developing online curriculum should the schools decide to close.
Pat Holloway, Chief of Staff for Dalton Public Schools, said there are no cases or quarantines involving staff or students in their district, but they are developing curriculumn for students to access via their devices if needed. The system has about 7,800 students with third grade through 12th grade each having their own devices, either laptops or I-pads.
Other area schools, including DPS, are following guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control to reduce the chance of the virus coming into their schools. The Georgia Department of Health has resources available, including guidelines on how to disinfect surfaces.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control reported there were 23 confirmed cases in Georgia.For a complete listing by state, click here.
The virus spread from the Wuhan in China and has 938 confirmed cases in the United States and 29 deaths. A confirmed case in Fulton County schools led to the closure, according to the Georgia Department of Education, but they are not recommending closures for other schools. To read the GADOE statement, click here.
COVID-19 is spread person-to-person and symptoms are flu-like or the common cold.
The CDC recommends:
Stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting.
Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email.
Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes.
Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
For other tips, visit here.
The Georgia Department of Health recommends:
Washing hands regularly
Get flu shot
Cover coughs and sneezes
Stay home if symptoms appear until they resolve
A notice from Pickens County Schools states:
Our school district is committed to keeping our community informed about issues relating to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There are no cases of COVID-19 at any Pickens County school. You are probably aware of yesterday’s news report that an employee of the Canton Waffle House has tested positive for COVID-19. On March 1st, a 4th grade paraprofessional at Harmony Elementary School ate at this Waffle House. The paraprofessional is not showing any signs of the virus, and we do not know if the infected employee was in the building at the same time as the paraprofessional. We thought it prudent for the paraprofessional to self-quarantine for the remaining days of the incubation period, and we thought it important to share this information with you. Our school district remains in close contact with local, district, and state health officials and is monitoring this situation very closely. We will continue to follow the authorities’ recommendations on how to proceed and will keep you informed if there are developments that impact our schools. Again, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at Harmony Elementary or in any Pickens County school.
Pickens County BOE discussed precautions at their recent board meeting.