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North and South Carolina school districts prepare for spread of coronavirus

Updated: Feb. 27, 2020 at 3:26 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - School Districts in North and South Carolina are beginning to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus.

In a briefing Wednesday night, President Donald Trump recommended everyone to be prepared for the worst-case scenario as a precaution.

“Yeah, I think schools should be preparing and you know get ready just in case. The words are- just in case- we don't think we are going to be there. We don't think we're going to be anywhere close,” President Trump said.

North Carolina’s State Superintendent Mark Johnson was in Charlotte Thursday. He says he has been in close contact with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the coronavirus, but said parents should remain calm.

“First and foremost, we have to remember it’s not here yet. We don’t want anyone to panic,” Superintendent Johnson said.

He recommended students, parents and school districts prepare for its spread much like they would for flu season.

“Pay attention to the simple things you should do every day. Wash your hands every chance you get, make sure classrooms have hand sanitizer, have Lysol wipes so you can wipe down toys that might be in classrooms,” Johnson said. “Heaven forbid if the coronavirus were to come here these measures are in place to hopefully stop that.”

Johnson was touring Sugar Creek Elementary Charter School on Thursday. The school’s principal says faculty members met Thursday morning to have a more serious discussion about the possibility of the coronavirus. He says they will be posting more signs around school and sending information home with parents so everyone remains informed.

“We want to give out literature to parents and we want to make sure our kids are trained in the school,” Principal Richard Russell said. .”Washing our hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.”

Pediatrician Carlos Paxtor with Piedmont Medical Center said the public should not panic, but they should expect to be exposed to the virus. He says taking the same precautions one would to protect themselves from the flu should help slow the spread.

“The major thing is {hand hygiene}, but the problem is that when you tell people that they say ‘well, we already do that’,” Dr. Carlos Paxtor said. “Unfortunately, nobody does it. … Some of us actually don’t do it the way we are supposed to. But the reality is, the more we do it, the better.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Sciences made the following recommendations to Students and Schools to monitor for the coronavirus:

Watching for Illness at School or the Child Care Center

• All incoming flights to the U.S. from China are being routed to designated airports for entry health screening.

• U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. who were in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days are subject to mandatory quarantine at designated quarantine centers for up to 14 days after arrival in the U.S.

• Returning U.S. citizens who were in any other part of mainland China (not Hong Kong or Macau) in the previous 14 days will undergo an entry health screening and be subject to monitored self-quarantine in their homes for up to 14 days with monitoring by state and local health departments.

• With few exceptions, foreign nationals who were in any part of mainland China (not Hong Kong or Macau) in the previous 14 days are not permitted entry into the U.S.

• If a staff member develops fever or other respiratory symptoms while at school or child care within 14 days of returning from another affected area other than China, the staff member should be sent home and told to call their health care provider to report their illness and recent travel. The principal, nurse, or director should also report the illness to the regional DHEC office.

• If a student/child develops fever or other respiratory symptoms while at school or child care within 14 days of returning from another affected area other than China, the student should be placed in a separate room with supervision while the child’s parent or guardian is immediately contacted. Whoever is providing supervision should wear a mask and practice appropriate hand hygiene. If a school nurse is available, the nurse should see the student right away, using precautions recommended by the CDC. The parent or guardian should be encouraged to separate the child from others at home and to contact their child’s healthcare provider to report their illness and recent travel. The principal, nurse, or director should also report the illness to the regional DHEC office.

• If a student or staff member who traveled within the prior 14 days develops fever or other respiratory symptoms while at school or child care, and the school or child care provider cannot identify whether the person traveled to an affected area, the above steps should be followed.

• Surfaces and objects within the classroom and isolation room should be cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible and upon the student’s or staff member’s exit to prevent transmission. DHEC can provide additional guidance about cleaning and/or reopening the room if necessary.

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