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updated: 2/28/2020 6:51 PM

CDC issues guidance to schools, child care providers for handling coronavirus

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  • A school janitor opens the door to a staff room inside Bothell High School, closed for the day on Thursday in Bothell, Washington. The suburban Seattle school was closed Thursday after a staffer's family member was placed in quarantine for showing symptoms of possibly contracting the new virus that started in China.

    A school janitor opens the door to a staff room inside Bothell High School, closed for the day on Thursday in Bothell, Washington. The suburban Seattle school was closed Thursday after a staffer's family member was placed in quarantine for showing symptoms of possibly contracting the new virus that started in China.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued interim guidance for K-12 schools and child care programs on handling the COVID-19 virus after warning community-level outbreaks could be imminent.

For schools, child care programs in communities without an identified coronavirus case:

• Review, update, implement emergency operations plans focusing on infectious disease outbreaks collaborating with health departments and other partners.

• Emphasize common-sense preventive actions for students and employees -- stay home when sick, cover coughs and sneezes, clean frequently touched surfaces, and wash hands often.

• Perform routine environmental cleaning. Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces. Provide disposable wipes.

• Develop information-sharing systems with partners for day-to-day reporting on absenteeism and disease surveillance efforts.

• Monitor and plan for absenteeism among students and staff. Alert local health officials about large increases in absenteeism.

• Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training employees.

• Create communications plans including strategies for sharing information with staff, students and families.

For schools, child care programs in communities with an identified case of the coronavirus:

• Determine if, when, and for how long child care programs or schools may need to be dismissed. Programs and schools may stay open for employees so teachers can develop and deliver lessons and materials remotely, and other staff can provide services and help with response efforts.

• Collaborate and coordinate with local health officials to make dismissal and large-event cancellation decisions.

• Health officials may recommend temporary dismissals of school if a student or employee attended school before being confirmed as infected.

• If schools are dismissed, consider temporarily canceling extracurricular group activities and large events. Cancel or postpone after-school assemblies, pep rallies, field trips, and sporting events.

• Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere.

• Review continuity plans, including for teaching, learning and meals programs. Implement e-learning plans, including digital and distance-learning options.