Tennessee school districts prepare for impact of coronavirus


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tennessee but school districts are still preparing in case the virus impacts the Volunteer State.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said everyone needs to prepare, including school districts.  

Metro Nashville Public Schools is staying in close contact with the Metro Health Department. If the department declares an emergency, the district is prepared to respond.  

The inclement weather plan would go into effect and schools would stay closed until the emergency declaration is lifted. Metro Schools would work with community partners to ensure meals were offered to families in need.  

The district already works with the Metro Health Department to monitor flu-like symptoms among students and faculty. Cleaning staff uses a disinfectant chemical for daily cleaning in areas prone to illness and specialized chemicals are also an option to prevent the spread of viruses.  

In Clarksville, schools already have measures in place to reduce the spread of illness, which includes a two-step cleaning process where custodians focus on “high-touch” surfaces. 

“They monitor their staff and their students for increased rates of infection. Like other counties around us, even if it’s influenza they may close the schools, but again, at this point we’ve not seen any cases,” explained Gill White III M.D., Acting Medical Director, MDH. 

The Tennessee Department of Health recommends that everyone take actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding public places when ill, and getting a flu shot every year. 

All of the 59 other cases in the U.S. had traveled from abroad or had been in close contact with those who traveled. Health officials have been on high alert for so-called community spread.

Earlier U.S. cases included 14 in people who traveled back from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from where the ship was docked in Japan.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

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