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Area schools taking preventative measures amid coronavirus scare

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 17:15:43-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — With the spread of coronavirus increasing throughout the nation, WMAR-2 News wanted to check-in with our local county school systems on how they're preparing.

So far we've heard back from Baltimore, Carroll, Anne Arundel, and Harford Counties.

Baltimore County Public schools says that administrators and staff are aware of and working proactively to address concerns regarding the spread of influenza and COVID 19 (novel coronavirus).

One of the precautionary measures that they say their employees are taking to prevent the spread of COVID 19, as well as all infectious diseases, includes effectively cleaning schools and office buildings. They are also encouraging staff and students to wash their hands regularly to prevent the spread of illness.

As a best practice for overall health, especially in the influenza season, the CDC recommends that individuals receive the flu vaccine (it’s not too late) and engage in everyday, preventative measures, to prevent the spread of germs, including:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.

Staff from BCPS Office of Health Services remain in close communication with the Baltimore County Department of Health and monitor guidelines received from the CDC and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH). School nurses have received detailed information about COVID 19 and steps that should be followed in schools. They have also received supplies for use in the unlikely case that a person was in a school with symptoms of COVID 19.

Staff from the Office of Health Services is available to answer questions related to COVID 19 and the BCPS response. Nurses can be reached daily from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at 443-809-6368.

Howard County Schools stated at this point they continue to operate and educate as normal as there have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Maryland or in Howard County.

They have a team of staff members who remain in constant contact with county, state and federal health professionals to ensure that they have the most updated information possible. They will continue to follow their guidance and share information with the community by posting updates to the HCPSS website, and sending emails.

School nurses for HCPSS have established protocols for students who come to the health room with a fever, including providing them with a mask before they are picked up by a parent or guardian if they are showing flu-like symptoms and/or there is reason to believe that they could have come in contact with somebody who may have contracted the Coronavirus.

Each says they're working together with local health department's and the CDC to best prepare.

But with no confirmed cases in either county, the schools systems say they're undertaking the following preventative measures for now:

• To help prevent the seasonal flu, which is not a coronavirus, free flu shots are available by appointment at
the Glen Burnie Health Center (410-222-6633) and Parole Health Center (410-222-7247).
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap
and water are not available.
• Stay away from people who are sick. You should not go to work and your child should not attend school
if any of these exist: Temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater, or Not free of fever for 24 hours without medication

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the virus, there is one for seasonal influenza which the CDC recommends for anyone over the age of 6 months.

You can keep up with the latest updates on the virus by going to the CDC or your local health department's website.