South Bay Schools on Alert Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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As the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging schools to have response plans in place.

In the South Bay, all 31 school districts under the Santa Clara County Office of Education are on alert, with cleanliness procedures, such as constant hand washing, and hypervigilance as top priorities.

"Way more aware of the coughing and the sneezing and kids that just look a little lethargic," teacher Cathie Berg said. "So then we all speak to the parents."

The county office said it is in daily contact with the public health department and each school gets a continuous stream of information on how to deal with various situations, such as public events, traveling and feeling ill.

"Information is disseminated in English, in Spanish and in Vietnamese," San Antonio Elementary School Principal Dr. Ivan Montes said. "And we use various platforms where we take this information and disseminate it to our parents."

President Donald Trump spoke to the press on Wednesday with updates on the U.S. response to COVID-19, praising his administration and saying that the “risk to the American people is very low.” Trump also announced that Vice President Mike Pence will be overseeing the administration’s response to the virus.

While schools have rooms available to isolate students if necessary, County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said there are protocols for a "worst case scenario" that include continuing with education.

"In the event that we would need to close schools, just having reminders in place about how those notices are sent and also what to do in terms of curriculum, homework, continuing of studies," Dewan said.

Dewan emphasized that the public health department's assessment is that the risk of coronavirus is still low and that reassurance is a big part of the message sent to families.

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