HARLINGEN — The Harlingen school district has cancelled all school-sponsored trips for students until the end of the school year, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
The district met Thursday to discuss its plan of action in light of the virus, COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has just defined as a pandemic. All out-of-state travel for students has been canceled, and the district has also suspended school-sponsored travel outside the Valley until further notice.
And that’s not all.
“We are monitoring the situation,” said Alicia Noyola, chief academic officer for the district.
“I think that it’s such an evolving situation that most of this is with an abundance of caution,” she said.
The district has developed a plan of action that will be posted today on its website, www.hcisd.org/health. The public can obtain updates on the district’s response at that site.
The plan of action has three levels. Currently, the district is at Level 1, which means there are no cases in Cameron, Willacy or Hidalgo counties. In the event a case appears in one of those counties, the district will go to Level 2. A case within the district will bring that status to Level 3, which could include the closing of one or more campuses.
Noyola said the district is focusing on educating students and staff, school cleanliness, operations such as travel restrictions and monitoring the situation across the U.S. and the rest of the world.
“We are educating our students and our community,” she said. “Based on the recommendations we are hearing from the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department, our focus needs to be on preventive measures.”
The district has already given presentations to all students and staff about the correct way to sanitize hands. Those presentations also include good sneeze and cough etiquette, which means using a tissue.
“Those exhibiting any sign of illness should go to the school nurse,” she said. “Students and staff who are sick should stay at home.”
School will be out next week for Spring Break, and the district will take advantage of that time to do some thorough cleaning of all facilities.
In San Benito, meanwhile, SBCISD Superintendent Dr. Nate Carman said all campuses will receive a deep cleaning during Spring Break.
Carman said school trips are being limited, but not all have been cancelled.
“We have been cleaning high touch areas more frequently for the past couple weeks with an appropriate sanitizer,” Carman stated in an email on Thursday. “We will continue to monitor next week and make decisions based on available information.”
FOR UPDATES ON THE DISTRICT’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS:
PREVENTIVE MEASURES FROM THE DISTRICT:
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue (not hands)
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces