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Coronavirus prompts Rowan-Salisbury Schools to cancel out-of-county field trips

Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools plans to cancel all out-of-county field trips until further notice in light of a state of emergency declared Tuesday because of the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus.

A pre-recorded call that went out to families on Tuesday evening said RSS also is evaluating all future school events that attract large crowds. In the message, RSS spokeswoman Rita Foil added that health care officials have not advised RSS to close schools, as COVID-19 does not pose a large health risk to children.

The latest move follows a state of emergency declared by Gov. Roy Cooper and a Tuesday memo from RSS Superintendent Lynn Moody on March 5. Seven people in North Carolina (in Wake and Chatham counties) have been identified as having coronavirus.

Moody told the Post the district is working with travel agencies to try and secure refunds for families.

“With the governor calling a state of emergency today, it was difficult to make some decisions along those lines so we decided to err on the side of precaution and safety,” Moody said in a phone interview.

Moody said there were some students traveling to Raleigh on Wednesday, but Wake County has cancelled field trips as well.

“Do you send students to Wake County when they are not traveling outside the county?” Moody said in an interview.

She added that the district has to take more than students, who have a low risk of serious illness as a result of the virus, into account and consider the health of families as well.

Moody said sporting events will not be affected at this point.

The school district is involved in weekly meetings lead by the Rowan County Health Department. Moody also is receiving updates from state and federal agencies on a regular basis, and the district will “follow the lead of local and state health department officials,” states the March 5 memo.

The district has “a stock of appropriate supplies that work specifically to keep areas sanitized and to help control the spread of respiratory illnesses,” Moody said in the memo.

The district is monitoring attendance at the schools daily to see any worrying trends. And, Moody said during Monday’s school board meeting that Rowan-Salisbury Schools will send in a separate custodial team to clean schools if they spot issues with coronavirus locally.

“The moment we see that we call the health department and we report we see some kind of pattern at a particular school,” Moody said at the meeting.

Moody said the district maintains a webpage with links to resources on the issue. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann holds a meeting every Friday to review a wide range of issues like food service, curriculum and nurses.

The N.C. Division of Public Health’s recommendations to prevent the spread of disease include:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Limiting the exposure of your nose, mouth and eyes to unwashed hands can help to protect from the spread of all germs and illnesses.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill and stay home if you are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

Fever, cough and shortness of breath can begin anywhere from 2 to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus.

There is no vaccine for the disease yet. According to the CDC, the limited number of outcomes reported from China “suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and, though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon.”

Reporter Natalie Anderson contributed to this story.

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See also: Editorial: Don’t panic, but be prepared for coronavirus

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