School officials monitoring coronavirus spread

Published 8:45 pm Monday, March 9, 2020

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While there are still no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Alabama, local school systems are watching and advising students and parents to take precautions.

The Troy Board of Education voted Thursday to add information about the disease to the system website.

“We want to let you know about our efforts to monitor coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19,” the message states. “The 2019 novel (or new) coronavirus causes a potentially severe respiratory illness. It was recently identified in China and is now being detected worldwide. Currently, there are no known cases in Alabama. We are coordinating with the Alabama Department of Public Health, local healthcare authorities, and the State Department of Education to be prepared with the most up-to-date information and guidance involving the virus.”

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Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools, said ADPH has been advising to reiterate best practice to prevent the spread of any virus, including the new coronavirus.

“This included topics like hand-washing protocols, and coughing protocols and practices,” Bazzell said. “We have distributed this information widely and have asked our school nurses to be alert for any students or employees who may have symptoms of the virus, specifically individuals with respiratory symptoms and fever.”

The ADPH has issued guidance that anybody, including students, returning from infected areas may be subject to a 14-day quarantine.

Cynthia Thomas, interim superintendent of Troy City Schools, said the system will continue to follow ADPH’s guidance as the situation evolves.

Until further guidance is given, the schools are encouraging everyone to follow some basic safety measures to prevent the spread of disease including:

• staying home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours after the last administration of fever-reducing medicine.

• practicing frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds at a time.

• covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.

• avoiding touching of the face, mouth, nose, and eyes.

• avoiding being around those who are sick.