SWFL school districts prepare for potential coronavirus outbreak

Reporter: Justin Kase
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans need to get ready for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak. It said more cases are likely to be diagnosed in the coming days. The CDC said schools, businesses and other gathering places should get ahead of this, which is something teachers and parents agree with.

School districts in Southwest Florida are keeping a close eye on total absences, trips to school health officials and common symptoms.

“You’ll have a runny nose, there may be a fever, the fever may be more prolonged than a common cold, people may have sore throats,” said Robert Hawkes, the director of the physician assistant program at Florida Gulf Coast University. “The at-risk population will certainly be the very young and the very old.”

The CDC said it is no longer a question of if the coronavirus spreads in the United States, but when.

“I think the big thing is not to panic,” Hawkes said, “but really to prepare as if you would for the normal cold season.”

The parents we spoke to said with only 57 confirmed cases in the U.S., they are not panicking yet. All the school districts are in constant contact with our health department.

For instance, Collier County Public Schools said if they have three or more students in a class with symptoms, they will notify health services and do a deep cleaning of the classroom.

Still, the if’s are popping up in parents’ minds.

“The contraction of the virus not showing symptoms for over two weeks, you know,” said Rebeca Bolanos, who has kids in the School District of Lee County. “It becomes harder and harder to really track where it’s going and where it could potentially be contracted.”

“I’m planning on keeping them in school,” Rebeca Bolanos, who has kids at schools in Lee County, said, “unless otherwise the health department or the county tells us to.”

Although, there are still many unknowns surrounding the coronavirus. At this point, health experts said it may not be deadly as the flu, but parents do not want to take any chances.

“I might be likely to want to pull my kids out,” said Erin Ruegg, a local teacher with kids in Lee County schools. “They both have asthma. It would be, you know, a huge health risk for them.”

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