Southeast Georgia school districts prepare for coronavirus

Glynn County schools’ coronavirus warning: Pay attention, don’t panic

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – Two cases of the highly contagious coronavirus, or COVID-19, have been confirmed in Fulton County, Georgia, as of Wednesday.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus that spreads mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people, or from contact with infected surfaces or objects. The virus was first detected in Wuhan City, China in December 2019, and continues to expand to other countries, including the United States.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may resemble the common cold or seasonal flu, which is a far greater risk this time of year.

School districts across Southeast Georgia are working to stay ahead of any potential cases in their area.

Glynn County

Officials with Glynn County Public Schools posted a notice for parents on Facebook, assuring them that the district has a plan in place to deal with any potential cases of COVID-19

“We want to share some basic information with you about this current strain of coronavirus, how we’re responding and what you can do as well, because your child’s health and safety are our top concerns,” the district’s post read.

Glynn County school officials said they wanted to be proactive and met with local health officials Tuesday.

“We had a great discussion. Their main message was good hygiene and cleaning as the best preventative measures, much like we do with the seasonal flu,” the district wrote.

Glynn County school officials said they have a close relationship with the Public Health Department of the Coastal Health District and will be notified if any local cases of COVID-19 are discovered. Teachers and nurses in Glynn County will also share information with the Health Department if they see students and staff members with flu-like symptoms.

“But perhaps the most important relationship is the one we have with you. We need your help to prevent the spread of illness in our schools -- not just coronavirus, but any kind of viral illness,” the district wrote. “Although there is much we do not know yet about how it spreads, how serious it can be, or how to treat it, we must reiterate that the best way to prevent infection with any respiratory virus is to use the same preventative strategies used during a normal cold and flu season.”

Those strategies include:

  • Keep your child home from school if they are sick, and contact your health care provider if the child exhibits flu-like symptoms.
  • Instruct children to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around your child from getting sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Wash hands frequently to protect against germs. Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Keep yourself strong -- and more resistant to disease -- by getting plenty of sleep, staying physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods.

“We will continue to monitor and follow the information and guidelines for schools put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health,” the district wrote. “The Glynn County School System will focus on prevention, response, and preparedness in the event of a pandemic situation.”

The district encouraged parents to stay informed, listen to the advice of public health officials in Southeast Georgia and to not panic if someone in their family becomes ill.

“It’s far more likely to be a cold, or influenza (flu), than coronavirus,” the district said.

And the county nurse manager for the health department again emphasized the need to keep children home if they’re ill.

“There’s no really need to come to school to try to get the perfect attendance award if you’re sick,” Adam Sanchez said. “We don’t want you to spread to the other students.”

Parents who would like more information about COVID-19, can visit the website of the Coastal Health District at www.gachd.org or the CDC at www.cdc.gov/COVID19. The district will also post updates on its website, www.glynn.k12.ga.us, One Call Now and its social media platforms.

Camden County

Camden County Schools does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the district said it is remaining proactive by maintaining close contact with local and state agencies regarding the emergence of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Custodial staff in all school buildings are being asked to take extended measures with sanitizing high-touch areas like doorknobs and desktops, in addition to daily, routine cleaning and sanitizing measures already in place, the district said.

COVID-19 spreads like other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and the common cold, primarily through coughing or sneezing by those who already have symptoms. The same measures that are urged to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus are increasingly important for everyone:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We encourage parents, students, and staff to be aware of the symptoms of illness and not to report to school if they experience fever, along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Body Aches
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes Diarrhea and Vomiting

Students or staff who experience a high-grade fever (oral temperature 100 degrees F or above) will be sent home and not allowed to return to school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. Students and staff should not report to school when running a fever.

As we do our part to educate our community on universal prevention measures, we will continue to follow the direction of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control, the district said.

Ware County

The Ware County School District is working in close contact with state and local health partners and is prepared for the potential spread of COVID-19, the district posted on its website.

Ware County School District officials have been following developments regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the risk of contraction for Georgians is low at this time.

“While this information is reassuring, we understand that new viruses like this can be worrisome,” the district wrote. “Additionally, the recent announcement from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraging communities to prepare for the spread of COVID-19 domestically has raised new questions.”

The district has been in close contact with the Ware County Health Department, Southeast Health District, and Georgia Department of Public Health and has a pandemic plan that is being reviewed by those agencies to support the health and safety of the district’s students, staff, and community, and to minimize any impact to learning in schools.

Part of that plan includes adding additional resources and steps to the district’s “already-thorough” cleaning processes. Frequently-touched areas will be cleaned several times a day, and clinics and classrooms will be stocked with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These are best practices to protect students and staff against ALL common winter germs and viruses, in addition to COVID-19.

“In the event of an outbreak in our community, we will follow our public health partners’ lead on any quarantines, closures, or other health measures deemed necessary,” the district said. “As always, our focus is to ensure the safety of all students and staff and continue education with minimal disruption.”

Parents with additional questions about COVID-19 are encouraged to view the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control. This fact sheet includes information about the virus, symptoms and severity, and how to protect yourself.

There are many causes of respiratory illness this time of year, and it’s an important reminder to practice good hygiene habits to stay healthy and avoid the spread of illness:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick, especially if you have a fever. If you have a fever, do not go to work or attend class until you are fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

It can be challenging knowing whether your child is too ill to go to school, the district admitted, adding that the district has a When is sick too sick for school? document that outlines symptoms to consider when choosing to stay home.

“We appreciate your partnership in supporting the health and safety of our school communities,” the district said.

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