Schools preparing for COVID-19, no confirmed cases

Schools preparing for COVID-19, no confirmed cases
Posted at 3:43 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 20:16:28-05

Central District Health Department says younger people are not the most at-risk for having symptomatic coronavirus, but it's still best for school districts to be prepared.

“We’re planning for the worst but hoping for the best," said chief communications officer of West Ada School District Eric Exline.

No confirmed cases in Idaho so far, but prevention protocols and preparations at West Ada and Boise school districts are underway. Boise School District is sending information to parents, saying in part they’ll provide information on how to continue education if extended absences or school closures occur. Their chief communications officer Dan Hollar says the district, like West Ada, is in constant communication with Central District Health.

“If we did happen to have a confirmed case, there would be precautions that were taken for isolation, there would be actually probably testing done for an immediate response, and that's a typical epidemiological response," said program manager for family and clinic services Brandon Atkins, with Central District Health.

West Ada says they have a weekly task-force meeting on this topic, and starting now, they’re sending information to parents every week on COVID-19 preparations.

“A lot of it initially is education, but as any of our operations change, we will be communicating that weekly with parents," said Exline.

West Ada is using its pandemic plan they developed 11 years ago, updating it as needed since every virus and infection is slightly different.

“All that we know is we'll have to be flexible on absence policies, we’ve already started tracking anybody who’s reporting an absence related to COVID-19 in any way, so we are actually marking that out," said Exline.

Central District Health says coronavirus is nothing new, and ultimately, less deadly than the seasonal flu. It’s just this particular strain that’s raising eyebrows. They’ll continue working with districts and the CDC to provide the most up to date protocols.

“if a student were within 6 feet of this infected teacher in your hypothetical, of course, we would probably want to screen this individual and then monitor them, which is similar to what's happening now to individuals," said Atkins.

The schools are already increasing cleanings and the hand sanitizer available for students. This will hopefully keep things as clean as possible since the virus can’t live on surfaces that are disinfected regularly.

“It’s worth being prepared even if you don have to implement everything you’ve thought through that you might have to implement," said Exline.