Coronavirus RCPS

CONYERS — After two cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported in Fulton County and confirmed by Gov. Brian Kemp Monday night, Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts offered reassurance to parents, families and other stakeholders addressing district-wide pandemic procedures and concerns.

Officials reported that the two Atlanta patients live in the same household. One of the patients is a man who recently traveled to Italy. Furthermore, both patients have isolated themselves at home with other relatives.

Oatts said the school system is working closely with health officials to monitor and prepare for the potential of a coronavirus pandemic.

“Protocols are already in place at RCPS, following state and local health official guidance, addressing an outbreak of respiratory and viral illnesses,” wrote Oatts. “RCPS will focus on prevention, response and preparedness in the event of a pandemic situation. In addition to our district planning team, we participate in weekly conference calls with health officials and attend the Healthcare Emergency Local Planning collaborative meetings to ensure we continue to implement the recommended protocols and that we are part of a coordinated response in our community.”

If coronavirus becomes widespread in Rockdale enough to impact the school system, officials said decisions to interrupt school operations will be made with state and federal guidance.

“The decision to alter normal school operations will be made in collaboration with state and local officials,” said Cindy Ball, RCPS chief of Strategy and Innovation. “Our planning includes steps to maintain some level of teaching and learning in the event of an extended time away from school. We are fortunate that our students in grades three-12 already have experience using their laptops at home through our Independent Learning Days.”

Oatts also recommends that families take the time to visit the CDC’s website (www.cdc.gov) where health professionals offer advice and tips including:

♦ Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

♦ If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

♦ Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

♦ Avoid close contact with sick individuals.

♦ Stay home when you are sick.

♦ Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

♦ Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

♦ Return to school only after being fever free for 24 hours.

The CDC has created an interim guide suggesting that school administrators be proactive and plan ahead.

“Schools should continue to collaborate, share information and review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community, including those with special health needs,” according to the CDC. “School plans should be designed to minimize disruption to teaching and learning and protect students and staff from social stigma and discrimination.”

To stay up to date on coronavirus development in Rockdale County, visit www.rockdaleschools.org/COVID19.

Parents can also attend the next Rockdale Board of Education work session on Thursday, March 12.

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Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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