HOUSTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning for Americans to prepare for possible outbreaks of the coronavirus in the United States.
There have been three cases so far in the Houston area, two in Harris County and one ‘presumptive positive case’ in Fort Bend County.
Houston-area school districts are outlining health safety recommendations as concerns grow regarding the spread of coronavirus.
The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 81,000 people worldwide, according to The Associated Press. For the first time, the number of new causes outside of China rose above the number reported inside the country, expanding the global distress about the spread of the epidemic.
Here are the written statements from the local school districts:
Fort Bend ISD
"We continue to monitor and will take the guidance of our local health officials. As shared last night in our message from the superintendent, Fort Bend ISD has no district-sponsored international trips scheduled, and we will be suspending the approval of these trips for the time being.
We will share additional updates with our community as information becomes available. ”
"Alief ISD is working closely with the Houston Health Department to monitor the coronavirus situation. We currently have no suspected cases among our students and staff.
"Recently, the CDC has issued updated guidance for schools to prepare and take action for COVID-19 which includes practices currently in place in Alief ISD. Alief ISD campus custodial staff will continue to disinfect campuses and buildings with hospital-grade products.
"The district emphasizes common-sense preventive actions for students and staff, such as staying home when sick; appropriately covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning frequently touched surfaces; and washing hands often using proper handwashing techniques.”
"Please be assured that Klein ISD continues to actively monitor the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in conjunction with local and federal health authorities. As always, the safety of our students, staff, and families remains a top priority, and we will act out of an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
"Currently, the Harris County Public Health Department says that the immediate threat to our community is low. Should this change in the future, Klein ISD is prepared to protect our families through appropriate control measures.
"Klein ISD is currently operating at LEVEL 1 as detailed in the accompanying chart. (Covid19_Update2.pdf)
"Much is being learned about this newly emerged disease. COVID-19 is believed to be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, much in the way the flu and other respiratory viruses are spread. As always, we encourage you to follow routine healthy habits to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, such as:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when sick.
• Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
"As recommended by the Harris County Public Health Department, we continue environmental cleaning such as disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at our campuses. Klein ISD uses hospital-grade cleaning equipment and solutions to help ensure that our campuses and buildings stay disinfected. We are prepared to escalate such practices if recommended by the Harris County Public Health Department.
"In situations like these, rumors may cause unnecessary reactions and panic. Therefore, we encourage you to get information from credible sources. The Harris County Public Health Department established a webpage with updates, key messages, frequently asked questions, travel advisories, rumor control, and more at publichealth.harriscountytx.gov.
"Should you have specific questions about COVID-19 for Klein ISD, please use the contact form located at kleinisd.net/COVID19.”
"Lamar CISD is aware of the presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County. The safety of our students and staff remains our top priority and we are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Fort Bend County Health Department to help protect our students and staff from all communicable diseases.
"We do not want any students or staff coming to school sick.
"Due to the concerns surrounding COVID-19, Lamar CISD will suspend perfect attendance rules for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. As a result, 2019-2020 perfect attendance recognition will be from August 26, 2019 – March 3, 2020. Please note that compulsory attendance law still applies.
"Lamar CISD will also suspend exam exemption criteria related to Spring attendance for Spring 2020 exams. All other campus criteria for exam exemptions still apply. Please note that compulsory attendance law still applies.
"Concerns regarding all medically fragile students will be handled on a case-by-case basis and parents should consult with their child’s school nurse.
"As a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help in the spread of respiratory viruses. Lamar CISD schools will continue to do the following:
- Monitor all student and staff symptoms of a fever (100-degree Fahrenheit or higher), cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache and generalized fatigue. Students and staff who have a fever will be sent home from school and be asked to remain at home until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Encourage parents/guardians to not send students to school if they are sick.
- Teach students and staff effective handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Teach students not to share personal items and to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or their upper sleeve if a tissue is unavailable.
- Proper disposal of tissues/paper towels in receptacles.
"In addition, the District continually sanitizes all campuses on a rotating schedule with a hospital-grade EMist process.
"Again, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We will continue to partner with the CDC and Fort Bend County Health Department for additional information and guidance and will share updates as necessary.
"Pearland ISD continues to monitor the ongoing news regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to once again remind students, families and staff that washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying at home when sick or feverish are the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu or other respiratory illnesses.
"We do not want students or staff to come to school sick. Pearland ISD consistently enforces our fever policy, and in light of this new virus, we want to ensure that policy is followed by making the following changes to perfect attendance calculations and exam exemptions for rest of the 2019-2020 school year.
- Pearland ISD will suspend perfect attendance rules for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, perfect attendance recognition will be for August 15, 2019 – March 2, 2020.
- Pearland ISD will suspend exam exemption criteria related to attendance for Spring 2020 exams. All other campus criteria for exam exemptions still apply.
"As we head into spring break, it is important that all Pearland ISD students, families and staff take precautions when traveling. If you are traveling, you should refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel website.
“Pearland ISD will continue to be in communication with Brazoria County Health Department, the CDC and State authorities regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and the rapidly changing situation and provide updates to families as warranted.”
"The Channelview Independent School District believes the safety and well-being of our students and staff are always our top priorities. In an effort to keep you informed, we want to notify you of a report that was made at Channelview High School. This morning, an employee notified the administration that one of her family members was under quarantine.
“Channelview ISD has been in close contact with state and local officials, and indications are there is little to no risk to our Channelview schools. We want to assure you that we will continue to follow all safety measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control.”
Galena Park ISD
“As always, we in Galena Park I.S.D. share your concern for the health and well-being of our children. We understand the recent reports about COVID-19 (coronavirus) have caused concern for parents and want to assure you we are monitoring this situation very closely. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention reports, as of February 26, reported 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and classified the immediate health risk level to the American public as low.
“The agency simultaneously reported at least 29 million cases of influenza, including 280,000 hospitalizations, and classified flu activity as high. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the single best way to protect against the flu.
"Galena Park ISD has strong protocols in place that allow us to respond quickly and efficiently when a student or employee becomes sick with any potentially contagious illness; the health and safety of those in our care are always our top priorities. In addition to maintaining close contact with health officials, the district recently began a heightened District-wide disinfecting effort and we are continuously encouraging all students and staff to follow the preventative measures listed above.
“For more information, visit the Harris County Public Health web page, the CDC’s web page on influenza or its COVID-19 (coronavirus) page, or contact your health care provider. If you have specific questions about Galena Park I.S.D.’s protocols for dealing with contagious illnesses, please feel free to contact the school nurse at your child’s campus. We appreciate your continued support in maintaining a healthy learning environment for our children.”
"With the recent news of a “presumptive positive” case for coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in Fort Bend County and two confirmed cases in Northwest Harris County, I want to reassure you that we are continuing to work closely with local and federal health authorities to monitor the developing situation in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for the students and staff in CFISD. Local health officials have shared with us that these are both travel-related cases, and there are no confirmed community-spread cases in our area.
"The steps we are taking in CFISD to prevent the spread of ALL communicable diseases include continuing our daily routine of disinfecting campuses and buses with hospital-grade products, encouraging proper handwashing, and when soap and water are not available, using hand sanitizer. All CFISD campuses have wall-mounted soap dispensers in restrooms and free-standing hand sanitizer dispensers at the building and cafeteria entrances. In addition, we are in the process of installing wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers in every classroom in the district.
"State medical experts indicate that the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu, such as avoiding close contact with those who are sick, proper handwashing, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and staying home when sick.
"We do not want students or staff to come to school sick. As a precautionary measure, we are making the following changes to perfect attendance calculations and Spring 2020 semester exam exemptions:
- CFISD will suspend perfect attendance rules for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, perfect attendance recognition will be for August 26, 2019 – March 5, 2020.
- CFISD will suspend exam exemption criteria related to attendance for Spring 2020 exams. All other district criteria for exam exemptions still apply.
"As we head into Spring Break, some of you may have questions about travel. While there are travel restrictions in place for several countries identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of today, there are no travel restrictions or advisories pertaining to COVID-19 within the United States. Please refer to the CDC’s webpage for more information regarding travel.
“I will keep you informed as we receive additional information. It takes all of us working together to ensure healthy learning environments. I hope everyone has a restful and safe Spring Break.”
"We are in contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and will conscientiously follow their recommendations. We continue to encourage good hygiene practices and will follow appropriate assessment and monitoring protocols for students and staff who report feeling ill.
“New students wishing to enroll at any HISD school will be asked to complete a routine travel history questionnaire as a precaution. We have a plan of action in place should the virus present on one of our campuses. The absolute safety, health, and well-being of our students and staff are of the utmost importance at all times.”
"The district is closely monitoring events surrounding the coronavirus. Currently, it is our understanding that there are no confirmed cases in Harris County. Humble ISD will continue to work in conjunction with the Harris County Public Health Department and will follow their recommendations along with the Centers for Disease Control regarding communicable disease protocols.
“It is important to note that we are in the midst of our regular cold and flu season, so it is important for our community to take preventative measures to safeguard against the spread of communicable diseases. Local and federal health authorities indicate that the best ways to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus are the same recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu virus.”
“I want to assure you that Conroe ISD is keep tracking of this situation through proven and trustworthy sources: our local health department, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time.
“While a new type of illness can be scary, we can protect our students, teachers, and the broader community by using simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses. Our teachers, school nurses, and staff are working carefully to encourage these simple and effective habits of frequent hand washing, covering every cough or sneeze and cleaning classroom tables/surfaces frequently. This is important not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but to help prevent the spread of other infections that can lead to student illness and absences.”
“By now you have likely heard about the recently confirmed presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Houston area. The District remains in contact with local, state and federal health agencies, all of which have stated that no action is required of school districts at this time. Until such action is deemed necessary, there are no plans to close schools.
"Based on current guidance, it is recommended that schools continue to take the same steps to protect against COVID-19 as are taken to prevent other common communicable diseases such as the cold and flu. While the identification of a new illness can be alarming, together we can continue to help protect our school community by following basic prevention practices. At the campus level, we are ensuring sufficient soap and sanitizer supplies are available to students, staff and visitors in all locations, at all times. While maintenance staff is also thoroughly disinfecting frequently used surfaces on a regular basis.
"Katy ISD supports our parents’ decisions regarding their child’s well-being and attendance at school. Absences related to this matter will be coded as excused. The District is currently reviewing adjustments to the high school final exam exemption requirements and will provide additional information at a later date.
"Finally, as we prepare for spring break, students and staff who are traveling outside of the country are asked to follow all federal regulations when reentering the country that may include medical screenings, quarantine and self-reporting. New enrollees from outside of the United States should contact their campus prior to visiting the school and completing the enrollment process.”
“Aldine is following the guidelines from the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services. We are working with local healthcare authorities to ensure we are protecting the students and staff of Aldine ISD.”
Spring Branch ISD
"We are continuing to closely monitor information concerning coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow the guidance and expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), City of Houston Health Department and Texas Department of State Health Services.
As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2020, we have learned that there are now two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Harris County. We will continue to monitor guidance from local agencies and Harris County officials for updates on this new development.
SBISD continues to be proactive in our response."
"On January 30, 2020, SBISD proactively sent a message via email to our families regarding the coronavirus, including links to local, state, national and international health organizations, and important public health recommendations to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. We also posted this information on our district website.
"The safety and well-being of SBISD students and staff is our top priority, and SBISD goes beyond requirements to have a registered nurse on staff at every school. Additionally, our custodial staff has been trained to clean for health and follow cleaning protocols using hospital-grade disinfectants.
“We will continue to monitor, respond and plan accordingly as guided by local, state and national health and government officials.”
This story will be updated with the statements from other school districts if and when they respond to KPRC 2′s request for comment.