Weakley County Schools address coronavirus concerns

Weakley County School officials want to assure local residents that staff are monitoring the coronavirus situation and employing preventative measures.

An article released last week by Education Week included some important points for educators to keep in mind:

Children, for the most part, aren’t showing symptoms.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States so far is extremely low.
Hand-washing is more important than ever-as is having the flu vaccine.
They also noted that Superintendents are beginning to put emergency response plans and procedures in place.

Coordinator of Safe Schools Lorna Benson says Weakley County Schools has had such a plan in place for years. “Our All Hazards Emergency Operation Plan includes protocols for potential epidemic incidents with details tailored to meet the needs of each individual campus,” she explained.

Included in that plan and already underway at the building level is communication from school nurses.

“They’ve been actively stressing the importance of hygiene in battling the viral illnesses we traditionally see such as the flu or stomach bug. As COVID -19 is also viral, additional attention is being given including increased use of hand sanitizer by students, staff, and guests,” she added.

The National Association of School Nurses underscores that school nurses lead health promotion and disease prevention in schools. School nurses, they point out, can decrease fears and promote prevention of COVID-19, the flu, and other illnesses by being proactive in advising students, families and staff to:

Stay home when sick.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.
Cover coughs and sneezes.
Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
Wash hands for 20 seconds.

“While we are pleased there are currently no cases of COVID-19 or Coronavirus in Tennessee, we understand that the public is concerned,” said Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier.

“Our current focus is on prevention. We have cleaning equipment in place now that allows for periodic disinfecting via a type of fog machine,” he said. “And obviously, we are thrilled that we have made the investment as a county to go beyond the state-allocated funding and include a nurse in every school. They are on the ‘front lines’ when it comes to identifying symptoms and spearheading prevention education. Times like these remind us that when it comes to child health and safety, no investment should be too great.”

Benson outlined what happens should the need rise to the level of a county emergency.

“On the district level, an M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding) with the West Tennessee Regional Health Department has been in effect for many years which outlines responsibilities for setting up P.O.D.s (Points of Dispensing) and drive-through clinics in conjunction with the Weakley County Emergency Management Agency (WCEMA) and the West TN Regional Health Department,” she explained.

“We will continue, as in previous incidents, to follow guidance from the Tennessee Regional Department of Health, the Tennessee School Safety Center, the Tennessee Department of Education and the Weakley County Emergency Agency,” concluded Frazier.