Duluth Public Schools Stay Prepared for Potential Coronavirus Outbreak

School district now focused on cleaning surfaces and encouraging students and staff to wash hands

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth Public Schools are making sure they’re prepared should the coronavirus outbreak reach the Northland.

School leaders tell us they’re focused on preventative measures now, but they are in constant contact with state and federal officials about if and when more action has to be taken.

Because the virus hasn’t been found in this area, the school system is focused on keeping surfaces clean and making sure staff and students understand and follow the basic rules of personal hygiene.

“Wash your hands, wash your hands long enough. Not just like this under the faucet, wash your hands long enough. All the surfaces, the backs, in between, the fingernails. Sing the ABC song twice while you do it,” demonstrated Camille Murphy, who has been a school nurse for twenty years.

Murphy has been teaching kids how to properly keep clean to avoid all diseases including COVID-19.

“Cover your cough with your elbow, not your hands. You cough here and touch the doorknob and you’re sharing your germs,” she explained.

Murphy says kids usually do better than adults with personal hygiene basics, which is important because diseases can spread quickly in schools.

“Children are together in a group setting. Children are very hands-on, so that’s partly why they transmit things very well,” she said.

Assistant Superintendent Jeff Horton tells us school leaders have had regular meetings over the past month to make sure everybody is prepared for a potential coronavirus outbreak.

“All decisions we’re making will be in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health, we’ll be working with the Minnesota Department of Education who are coordinating with the CDC and other state agencies to help take care of our students and our community,” explained Horton.

School custodians routinely clean frequently touched surfaces like door handles, light switches, and tabletops.

“We’ve increased cleaning in high-frequency areas. We’re using all the products they suggest that take care of COVID-19,” added Horton.

If students are sick, it’s important they stay home from school and that their parents keep an eye on their symptons.

“If you’re calling your children in sick, give us some details on what the symptoms are because that helps us track it if we need to report to the Department of Health,” explained Murphy.

If the state recommends that schools close, the Duluth School District will immediately do so.

But for now, Horton tells us it’s important for parents, students, and staff to stay calm and make sure they’re getting disease updates from school and health professionals.

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