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Schools, universities take precautions in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 19:41:16-05

As global concerns surrounding the coronavirus continue, schools are taking steps to keep schools safe from communicable diseases. Waco, Killeen, and Temple are among the many districts rolling out plans to stop the spread of illness.

Waco ISD issued an update on their protocols to the school community:

“We regularly remind students and staff to cover their cough, wash their hands frequently and maintain personal space. Our teachers refer students who appear to be ill to their campus nurse, and our nurses use their expertise to evaluate and address students' medical needs. Additionally, our custodial staff uses a hospital-grade disinfectant and continuously cleans our buildings throughout the day supplementing that with targeted deep cleaning as needed. Our transportation department also sanitizes all seats and windows on all buses after morning and evening routes. And our child nutrition staff is conducting additional sanitizing of all surfaces and objects that are frequently used.”
Waco ISD

Similarly, Killeen ISD is taking the same steps they do this time of year to keep the flu at bay in an effort to stop the spread of all communicable diseases.

“Our facilities team is using a hospital grade sanitizer every night to thoroughly clean all of our campuses with an emphasis on touch zones which include stair rails, keyboards, backs of chairs, door knobs and any place where children may have their germs touching throughout the day,” said Taina Maya, Killeen ISD spokesperson.

The universities are also taking measures.

“Some of the key protocols include strongly discouraging all faculty, staff from traveling abroad internationally, and currently we’re working on the campus to make sure that individuals are aware of how to fight any infectious disease,” said Brandon Griggs, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, A&M Central Texas.

The university system issued this guidance on COVID-19:

Beginning immediately, the Texas A&M System is taking the following actions to protect students, faculty and staff:

1. Strongly discourage all foreign travel by Texas A&M System students, faculty and staff while the outbreak of COVID-19 remains a dynamically changing and uncertain situation.

2. Prohibit payment for System-sponsored travel to all countries identified as Level 1 or greater risk by the CDC Health Notice Warning system. The only exception is for “mission-critical” personnel working on the response to COVID-19.

3. Encourage all students, faculty and staff to return from all Level 1 or higher risk countries as soon as can be practically arranged.

4. Direct students, faculty and staff to report all personal international travel to the university if they have traveled to a Level 1 or greater risk country.

5. Require students, faculty, staff and visitors traveling from countries with risk levels of 2 and 3 to self-isolate for a 14-day period before returning to school or work. Monitoring/isolation should follow the latest CDC guidelines, which currently suggest at least 14 days without symptoms.

6. Require students to self-monitor and isolate at an off-campus or family residence whenever practical. Students should contact their university if these options are impractical.

7. Direct students with symptoms not to just show up at campus health centers but call ahead so medical personnel can be prepared or can direct the students to local health authorities.

8. Reimburse students for reasonable expenses associated with canceled school-sponsored trips.

9. Create a System-level reserve to assist universities with extraordinary costs associated with the crisis response.

10. Continue to raise public awareness and encourage people to keep themselves safe by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, covering their coughs, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying home when ill.

11. Provide information on System websites and on regular social media updates.

12. Create an expert medical response team.

13. Work with other university systems to ensure a coordinated, statewide effort.

14. Coordinate weekly or biweekly conference calls among System leaders to share current information from the Texas Division of Emergency Management.