Central Texas school districts update families on preventing spread of COVID-19



AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several central Texas school districts sent out letters to families on preventing the spread of illness like COVID-19.

Letters from the Austin, Pflugerville and Hays Consolidated Independent School Districts each said leaders are closely monitoring information from the CDC about the disease’s spread and said the risks to schools remains low.

“Any decisions that may need to be made regarding a change to school operations will be done so with guidance from the CDC and local health officials, along with guidance and direction from the authorities at TEA and Region 13,” read the letter sent out to families of AISD.

On Wednesday, Georgetown ISD sent out a letter to the community, saying in part:

“While there is no immediate concern in Georgetown ISD, we are being proactive in prevention by following the same protocols for cleaning and disinfecting schools as we take to prevent the spread of everyday illnesses like the common cold or the flu.”

The news comes as Japan announced the closure of elementary, middle and high schools nationwide to help prevent the spread of the virus. Japan now has more than 890 cases, including 705 from a quarantined cruise ship.

Health officials are recommending the following to prevent the spread of the disease:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with the inside of the elbow when coughing or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The tips offered are much like preventing the spread of other diseases, and the district’s noted that the latest information about the coronavirus can be found on the Department of State Health Services website.

“PfISD follows the Texas Department of Health Guidelines for illness-related exclusions from school. A student will be sent home if they have a fever of 100.0 Fahrenheit or higher, or any other contagious symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) and will need to remain home until symptom free for twenty-four (24) hours, without the use of medications,” read a letter from Pflugerville ISD.

The notices were also sent as President Donald Trump spoke in a news conference on Wednesday, saying the U.S. was prepared for whatever the coronavirus threat brings. Shortly after, the federal government announced a new U.S. case of the virus that wasn’t linked to travel abroad.

Trump has placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the nation’s response. The White House has requested $2.5 billion to help with efforts.

The letter sent out by Hays CISD officials listed the following steps they are taking to help prevent the spread:

  • Health officials are recommending the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is the same measures we take to prevent the spread of everyday illnesses like the common cold or the flu including staying home when you are sick. Here is information from the CDC regarding prevention of COVID-19.
  • Our school nurses and clinic staff follow guidelines set by the Texas Department of State Health Services to protect our children from communicable illnesses.
  • Our district’s director of student health services is closely monitoring updates from the CDC regarding viruses, such as the flu and the coronavirus. In addition, she is connected with the county health department and emergency management personnel in the event their guidance is needed.   
  • Our custodial staff ensures that all classroom and facility surfaces are cleaned and disinfected daily. 
  • Our transportation team is using special equipment to regularly disinfect our bus fleet.
  • Our campuses continue to encourage handwashing and other best practices for preventing the spread of flu and other diseases through posters and other means.

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