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Schools and districts trying to stay ahead of coronavirus

 

March 11, 2020

Centers for Disease Control

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken over the news, especially recently in Boulder County after a substitute teacher at Centaurus High School reported a suspected exposure. Upon learning that other passengers of his cruise ship tested positive, the teacher has chosen to undergo a self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms.

Similarly, two University of Colorado Boulder employees have undergone testing for the virus. One of those tests has already come back negative, but the other test is still pending. As of Saturday, that makes 69 pending tests and eight presumptive positive cases for Colorado, according to Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment.

In response, public health officials across the state and the nation have been sharing tips and information about how to try and keep the virus at bay. Generally, the most common advice seems to encourage people to increase personal and public hygiene practices--wash hands, cover coughs, wipe down machines and work spaces.

Schools are especially targets of these measures as they service so many people. While some districts have been lucky enough to just send out proactive emails, others have had to close temporarily. On Friday March 6, one Denver private school closed early due to potential exposure.

So far, other than the substitute teacher at Centaurus, Boulder County schools, including both the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts and CU Boulder, have been able to avoid confirmed cases.

All three institutions have repeatedly reported that they have been "actively monitoring" the crisis since early January. Moreover, it appears that they are communicating with their constituents as they learn new information.

Perhaps most proactively, BVSD has sent out at least two emails to families and has posted them on their district website. SVVSD has sent out at least one email with information and a variety of resources for parents, while CU has sent out a few coronavirus-specific emails, included information in newsletters, and launched a new webpage to provide community members with updates as they develop.

It would seem, after going through updates from these institutions, that actual risk to the Boulder County community is still relatively low. However, each is preparing for that risk by modifying and implementing various aspects of their own response/pandemic plans.

As CU states, "With infectious diseases, our campus response measures depend on the type of disease...[O]ur response measures will scale with the needs of our community."

SVVSD emphasized that its plan is "extensive and detailed" and is often reviewed and updated.

Similarly, BVSD has stated that its pandemic plan "has been developed in cooperation with our local health departments and is working on a plan for the continuation of learning via distance learning options. The plans are proactive."

It is difficult to find details of these plans online. For more specific questions about this particular outbreak, the institutions have encouraged their communities to reach out through dedicated web and FAQ pages.

"We believe our plans along with the support of our local public health agencies, will provide us with the necessary structure and guidance to keep our students and staff safe," said Carolyn Nohe, the communications manager for BVSD.

At the end of the day, that is what each of these institutions aim to do: protect their communities. Until the risk level of the virus increases, the best way for them to do that is by sharing resources and information.

For more information about how the individual schools are responding to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit their websites:

BVSD

SVVSD

CU

For more information from the state regarding the virus' spread, visit: http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

 

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