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Austin Schools monitoring reports and recommendations concerning the COVID-19, or coronavirus

Austin Public Schools is monitoring reports and recommendations regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus from national and State health agencies daily and is taking safety precautions to detect and treat any potential case of the virus by following the latest guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). At this time, MDH and MDE are not recommending school closures. 

This situation continues to evolve and Austin Schools will provide updates to the community as needed– especially when information suggests actionable steps by Austin Public Schools are necessary. 

PRIOR TO A CONFIRMED CASE OF CORONAVIRUS INCIDENT IN AN AUSTIN SCHOOL 

The District encourages students, staff members and volunteers to begin the following measures to avoid contracting the Coronavirus and avoiding the spread of it if they unknowingly have it: 

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. 
  • Covering their coughs by coughing into their arm—not hands 
  • Staying home when sick 
  • Avoiding touching their face with unwashed hands 
  • Hand-shakes and touching of each other should be discouraged 
  • Accessing sanitizers and wipes available in classrooms should be encouraged 

Additional steps the District will take to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus 

Although the District already does regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces throughout each school on a regular basis, the level of cleaning and disinfecting will be accelerated in common spaces and classrooms of every school. 

Students will have regular opportunities to clean their hands. 

Parents are asked to encourage their children to take advantage of these opportunities. 

The following interim CDC guidance was developed in response to questions about the role of masks for controlling seasonal influenza virus transmission. 

A message from the Palmer Bus Service Leadership Team: 

There is no higher priority to the Palmer Bus Service team than keeping the kids we transport safe. As a proactive measure we are instructing each of our sites to disinfect each of the buses and vans that transport students on a daily basis. Our local site managers will be working with their staff to minimize germs by spraying down the seats and wiping down commonly touched surfaces with household cleaners and disinfectants.

DETERMINING IF A SCHOOL WILL CLOSE AS A RESULT OF A CORONAVIRUS INCIDENT 

The decision to close would involve the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health, and the District would be responsible for implementing the closure. In each of those situations, the Department of Health would decide the need for quarantining people on a case-by-case basis. 

In the event of a school closure all buildings will be closed, programs and activities canceled and Kids Korner will be closed. 

Upon closure the District will follow guidance from the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the legislature and APS District policies to determine how learning will continue or days will be made up. 

MONITORING FOR CORONAVIRUS INCIDENTS 

The Minnesota Department of Health has primary responsibility for the overall monitoring of Minnesota residents who may be exposed to the Coronavirus, and they would inform the District of steps they expect the District to implement. 

The District will closely monitor the health conditions of students and employees while they are in school in order to detect any potential for the presence of an infectious illness, including Coronavirus. 

Identification of Coronavirus presence in a student, employee or family member 

The Minnesota Department of Health will have primary responsibility for managing the existence of the Coronavirus in any student, employee or family member; and the District will cooperate fully. 

In the event that the presence of the Coronavirus in either a student, employee or volunteer is first discovered at school, the District will need to take immediate control of the situation until the Department of Health can intervene and take appropriate actions. 

Travel out of the area or travel out of the country 

It is realized that families in the community travel frequently and engage with a wide range of people in their travel. 

With Spring Break coming up, such travel and connections will increase. 

This activity will increase the possibility of encountering others who either have Coronavirus or have been in contact with someone else who has the virus. 

The District would not ask anyone to alter travel plans, but we all need to realize that travel during this time will add to the risk for students, staff members and parents traveling and others whom they contact when they return to school. 

▪ The district will be especially vigilant during the first couple of weeks of school following Spring Break and follow all of the prevention protocols.


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