Local schools address coronavirus

Friday, March 13, 2020

Districts remain open, urge residents to take preventative measures

Local schools are working in cooperation with the Barry County Health Department and sending communications to parents regarding the COVID-19 virus and how it is being handled.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of the Cassville school district, said the district is closely monitoring the impacts and updates related to COVID-19.

“We continue routine steps and efforts to keep our school district safe,” he said. “We are working with the Barry County Health Department and will make decisions based their recommendations or directives. We all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in our local communities.”

Tosha Tilford, Southwest superintendent, penned a letter saying the safety of students, staff and the community is the highest priority.

“There have been several questions regarding the COVID-19 virus and the impact in our district,” she said. “We are meeting with the Barry County Health Department and all Barry County school districts to discuss proactive and potential reactive plans to future impacts based on guidance from state agencies.”

Officials said first off, people should be practicing good habits to avoid catching the virus, including:

• Washing hands regularly, especially before meals and after using the restroom

• Avoid coughing or sneezing in hands or outwardly in the air, try to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of the arm

• As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

• If children are feeling sick, please keep them home or away from school and other public areas

At this time, schools in Barry County remain open. Staff at each district are cleaning high-traffic areas more frequently each day, prioritizing cleaning bathrooms, cafeterias, common spaces, door handles, emergency bars on doors, etc.

Officials said if a student has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, has a cough or has difficulty breathing to follow Center for Disease Control recommendations and stay home from school and contact a healthcare provider.

School events remain scheduled at this time, including athletic events and local field trips. Cancellation remains a possibility as districts take guidance from local and state agencies.

Asbill said at the Cassville district, staff are cleaning more than normal, and they have purchased a sprayer that allows them to spray disinfectant in more rooms quicker than before. Buses are being sprayed, as well.

Gov. Mike Parson is excpected to declare a state of emergency in Missouri at 5 p.m. today. So far, two people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, including a Springfield person in their 20s who recently traveled to Austria. That person is quarantined with mild symptoms. The first confirmed case was a St. Louis woman in her 20s who tested positive after returning home from studying in Italy.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The current risk for severe illness is low, as there are only a small number of individual cases in the U.S. It is likely spread from person to person mostly from coughing and sneezing within 6 feet of a non-infected person. Other transmission methods may include: Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface containing the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes; and in rare cases, contact with feces.

Those more susceptible to complications include older adults and those with serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and any condition that affects the immune system.

As for treatment at this time, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids, rest, and take pain and fever medications.

More than 80 percent of those infected recover after mild symptoms. Those more susceptible to complications may experience more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, and require hospitalization.

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