PITTSBURG — Area school districts are putting contingency plans in place as more discussion of COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus, takes place.
A recent case in Johnson County heightened the awareness of the virus in Kansas schools.
There are currently no reported cases in Crawford County.
On Monday during its regular school board meeting, the Pittsburg Community School District (USD250) shared its plan, however they say many of these plans are also great for preventing influenza from going around the school.
"Everything we are doing to address COVID-19 also plays for the influenza, all in the washing of the hands, making sure that everything is sanitized, it’s a coverage for it all," said USD250 Superintendent of Schools Richard Proffitt.
Proffitt said the district is taking a "common sense" approach. Teachers and staff at the district have been informing students of how to keep germs at bay, including thorough handwashing, covering the nose while sneezing and other measures recommended by the CDC. The district’s custodians are using hospital grade sanitizers to clean everything.
The district is working closely with area health departments and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to make sure up-to-date information is sent out to parents. Proffitt said the district has already put together some information for the public to let the parents know a bit more of what could potentially happen.
Contingency plans have been created in the event that the district would ever need to close to protect the students and staff from the virus or if a student or family is quarantined.
Plans include continuation of learning; homework can be completed online. Proffitt said that the district realizes that some homes don’t have connectivity or electronic devices and the district is working on finding solutions for those students.
Other concerns include whether students have meals and are staying warm at home.
"These are all very tough things that we have to deal with and we continue to put those plans in place," Proffitt said. "We know their health is a primary concern."
The district has also suspended the attendance requirement at the high school for finals where students who had perfect attendance could skip their final.
Any precautions — including cancellations of large scale events — are predicated on advice that the district would receive through the Crawford County Health Department, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Department of Education and the CDC.
"We don’t know if anything is going to happen but we certainly want to pay attention to it, but I will tell you we are not in a panic, but we are taking a long hard look at it," Proffitt said. "We want people to know that we have their students' health in mind and they can always contact us."