Even as three cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) were confirmed Monday in Cuyahoga County in Northeast Ohio, Fulton County’s school districts are preparing to face the potential for a local outbreak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics available Wednesday, there are 647 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 36 jurisdictions in the U.S., and 25 related deaths.
Evergreen Local Schools Superintendent Eric Smola said a medical pandemic is included in the school district’s safety plan.
While there have been no suspected cases in the school district, “We are working closely with the Fulton County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health for guidance on potentially closing school should cases of coronavirus be confirmed in Fulton County,” he said.
A letter placed on the district’s website says the schools are seriously regarding the threat of coronavirus, “and have therefore increased the scope and frequency of our cleaning protocols in order to combat the spread of any illness…Our Evergreen Safety Plan includes measures for us to follow should the current situation develop.”
The letter also noted that Fulton County Health Commissioner Kim Cupp has advised that the risk of coronavirus to county residents continues to be low, and that the flu is presently a greater concern.
Wauseon schools don’t have a specific protocol in place for coronavirus, but they have Board of Education policies governing control of both casual-contact and direct-contact communicable diseases listed on the school district’s website.
Superintendent Troy Armstrong said the district’s safety plans contain a Medical:Pandemic portion.
Should a coronavirus outbreak occur locally, the school district has the option to close the schools, he said. The schools would first work with the county health department to determine whether closing is necessary.
Armstrong said the school district’s website has provided information from the Ohio Department of Health since February. He said no suspected cases of coronavirus have been reported, and no parents have contacted school administrators with concerns.
“As a district we are working diligently to help prevent the spread of illness in the buildings,” Swanton Local Schools Superintendent Chris Lake said in a letter sent to the school district’s parents.
The letter reported that the district’s Parents Club has provided a Clorox 360 machine being used regularly in all school buildings. The machine, which uses an electrostatic charge to assist cleaning agents, does kill the new coronavirus.
The letter also noted hand sanitizer stations and signs promoting hand-washing in all school buildings. It also advises ill students and staff to stay home while contagious.
“As a district we will continue to keep up our vigorous cleaning routines, but must also rely on parents to help us stop the spread of illness,” it stated.
Lake said Swanton schools do have a protocol for pandemics within their safety plan. He said the school district is looking at a number of scenarios in case coronavirus reaches the area.
“Closing the school down for an extended period of time would be a last resort, but we do have the capability to provide online instruction to students should the need arise,” he said.
Pike-Delta-York schools have maintained contact with the county health department and have taken steps toward retaining a healthy student and staff population. According to a letter sent to the school district’s families, hand sanitizer stations are available in the school buildings and “high touch” areas are regularly being disinfected.
The school district has an emergency operations plan that covers situations arising from a pandemic or widespread illness, Superintendent Ted Haselman said. He said PDY schools would close for an extended period if deemed necessary by a COVID-19 outbreak.
“We would definitely be looking to the leaders of the Fulton County Health Department and the Ohio Health Department in making that decision,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.