Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools are adding cleaning measures, postponing at least one international trip and laying out instruction plans for students and staff if schools close during a local coronavirus outbreak, according to a new coronavirus response plan out this week.
The district’s plan says any school or district closure would come after consulting the Minnesota education and health departments.
While the district says it will monitor student and employee health conditions at school, only the state can watch for potential COVID-19 cases in the area.
“They would inform the District of steps they expect the district to implement,” the plan states.
For now, day-to-day life in the district is focused on prevention. District officials continue to encourage families and staff to follow the state health department’s recommendations around washing hands, covering a cough or sneeze and staying home if they feel ill or begin to run a fever.
Cleaning will increase and focus on sanitizing high-contact areas such as drinking fountains and counters, according to the plan.
The district said additional sanitizing will be done if the school begins to see an “unusually high absence rate due to flu or colds” in a particular class or grade level. Lunchroom PIN pads and serving utensils will also get extra cleaning.
Students in high school bands were preparing for a tour of Spain over the spring break, but the district told families Thursday morning the trip was postponed.
“We will work with Grand Tours for options to reschedule the trip with the next calendar year,” spokeswoman Kristi Mussman wrote in an email.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Spain’s Ministry of Health reported 1,639 confirmed cases in the country, 101 people being treated in intensive care and 35 deaths, leading to some school closures and public advisories to avoid large gatherings.
On Wednesday evening President Trump announced that a 30-day travel ban on trips to and from Europe would start Friday.
The spread of the virus nationally and internationally may affect traveling students and families, including during spring break later this month. The district has asked that families follow the CDC’s travel guidelines but noted it didn’t have the authority to enforce it or a quarantine following travel.
Kris Ehresmann, the Department of Health infectious disease division director, called on school districts Thursday to also begin social distancing, or taking steps to limit close contact among students and staff.
Those might include staggering recesses among smaller groups and starting distance learning for medically frail students. Mitigation steps like these could affect everyone and last a while, Ehresmann added.
“These are things we’re doing together to protect our community,” she told reporters. “Our goal is protect people who are most vulnerable.”
If a building closes because of a COVID-19 risk, all other activities held in that building — like child care, adult education classes and sporting events — would likely be cancelled as well, according to the Prior Lake-Savage plan.
Communication of that decision would come via the same system used for weather closures. In the event of a school or district closure, teaching would continue online and use the tools schools have in place for weather-related closures.
“Should staff and students become ill during a school closing, the expectation is for their priority to focus on their health and getting better,” the plan states.