Does your child’s school have a coronavirus action plan yet?
New Jersey schools are being told by state officials to prepare for coronavirus disruptions even though there hasn’t been a single case of the illness in the Garden State so far.
“Schools are at a point where they are developing plans, dusting off their plans, checking to make sure that they have existing plans in place,” said Janet Bamford, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
“To a large extent school districts can be guided by the policies and practices they’ve observed in past epidemics, like flu epidemics and other health crises, so a lot of the tools are already in place.”
She said the School Boards Association is developing an online resource page to help districts prepare for a possible outbreak of coronavirus, should it occur.
“We think it’s important for New Jersey to understand this is something to take very seriously," she said.
Districts will deal with these preparations in different ways, but Bamford said local and state health officials will be involved.
If there is a coronavirus outbreak, schools likely will keep parents and students informed using letters, email, web posts and smartphone alerts.
Some schools, including those in Marlboro, have posted a coronavirus tutorial on their websites, inviting parents and student to learn about the virus and how to prevent its spread.
When asked whether coronavirus testing will take place in schools, Bamford said “schools are not expected to screen students or staff.”
She noted state health officials have indicated that “students that present with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should be placed away from others and asked to wear a face mask until they are sent home.”
She said in that kind of situation, parents should make sure their child gets immediate medical treatment.
She added if schools are forced to close for a period of time because of an outbreak, “the ability to do remote online learning varies from district to district. It depends whether your students have devices, it depends on whether there’s widespread internet access.”
Bamford said schools are “thinking about this, trying to develop strategies that will work for them.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.