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RSS calls emergency meeting Monday to discuss coronavirus plans

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — An emergency meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury School Board has been called for Monday by Chair Kevin Jones to discuss steps to protect students and staff from spread of COVID-19.

The announcement was made on Friday after a detailed statement was released by RSS about options should schools close to prevent the spread of the viral respiratory infection. Jones described the meeting as an opportunity to make sure the board is communicating well with the public and the school system.

“It’s an opportunity to get face-to-face,” Jones said.

The meeting, which will be 3 p.m. at the Wallace Education Form on North Main Street, is open to the public, but the school system said in an announcement that the public may prefer to listen through its webcast rather than in-person attendance. Anyone who would like to submit comments to the board may do so by emailing the board’s clerk: sonya.mulkey@rss.k12.nc.us.

The statement about existing and possible school district plans referenced remote learning — similar to what the district already does via eLearning Days — and exploring ways for students to access the internet off campus, including opening Wi-Fi accessibility at district facilities during the day. The district is able to provide mobile hotspots for high school students, according to the Rowan-Salisbury Schools statement.

The district could deliver meals to students if schools close along normal bus routes.

“We are actively getting menus together and working with vendors to ensure that we will be able to receive the necessary items to prepare meals in the event that we have a closure for several days. The district may look to school staff and school volunteers to assist with meal distributions if needed,” the district said in its statement

Meanwhile, the district has suspended community use of its buildings and is working on issuing credits and refunds to outside organizations that use its facilities.

The district also will be restricting “to the greatest extent possible” visitor access to parents or guardians. Parents are instructed to visit the nurse’s office at the school or the front office. The district is asking parents and guardians who travel to and from “China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and most of Europe” to notify the schools and health care providers and to not visit schools.

Athletics are already suspended until April 6. Report card distribution is postponed as well.

Rumors about the district preparing to temporarily close schools began circulating on social media late in the week, with commenters relaying their children had heard faculty discussing closures. But the district hasn’t made a decision yet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus poses a low risk to children, but can cause serious illness in people with existing respiratory illness or compromised immune systems.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina on Tuesday. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says the current COVID-19 case count in North Carolina is at least 15, with none of the cases being in Rowan County. One person has been identified who lives in Cabarrus County.

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