Tampa Bay school districts begin addressing concerns about coronavirus

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While there are no cases of the coronavirus reported in the state of Florida, school districts across the Tampa Bay area have started to issue communications to parents about the virus.

8 On Your Side reached out to our local districts on Wednesday after Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a news conference about what strategies he will implement if needed.

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Here is what we know from school districts in our area:

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Hillsborough County sent its first coronavirus update in a call to parents on Wednesday, also including a fact sheet about the virus from the Centers for Disease Control.

The district sent the following message to parents:

Parents, 

The health and safety of your children is our top priority. Our school health personnel are in constant contact with the Florida Department of Health about health concerns across our country and around the world, including the flu and coronavirus. 

We want to make sure you are aware there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Hillsborough County or Florida. 

We are calling to provide you with steps your family can take when it comes to protecting against any known viruses or sicknesses. 

This includes washing hands often, ensuring your child is up to date on all immunizations and if your child is sick, keeping them home from school. 

This message is not to alarm you, but to inform you that our district is remaining vigilant as we monitor the situation and seek information to further protect your children. 

Although there are no cases reported in Florida, this is a rapidly evolving situation and our district is engaged with the Department of Health in Hillsborough County to review our strategies and plans in how the community would respond to a case. We will be working closely together to identify the best options should a case be detected in Hillsborough County. 

The best information is available on the Department of Health’s website at FLHealth.gov. You will find FAQ’s, facts sheets and other important information. 

Please see the attached documents for more information. 

Thank you 

Pinellas County Schools

The school district called parents with the following message Wednesday evening, along with the CDC fact sheet provided to Hillsborough County families:

Dear Pinellas County Schools Families,

As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control issued an update yesterday on the coronavirus, now called COVID-19. The health and safety of our students is our top priority. Please know that the district is in constant communication with the Florida Department of Health.

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Pinellas County or the State of Florida and the risk of infection is low for the general public in the United States. We are continuously monitoring the situation and reviewing our plans with local and state health agencies should the coronavirus impact our area.

We remind families to practice all preventative measures used during flu season, including handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding sharing cups or utensils.  If your student is sick, please keep them home from school.

As an added precaution, we have elevated our cleaning and disinfecting protocols at all district facilities and will ensure that soap dispensers remain filled and hand sanitizer is readily accessible.

You can find the latest information on the virus at www.floridahealth.gov.  Also, please see the fact sheet below from the Centers for Disease Control. Any impacts to our school district will be shared on our website and through our social media channels.

Pasco County Schools

Pasco County Schools recorded a video on preventing illness with Superintendent Kurt Browing that will be sent to parents, along with links from the Florida Health Department and the CDC.

Manatee County Schools

The district issued the following statement to 8 On Your Side:

At this point, we are working very closely with the Florida Health Department here in Manatee County. 

Right now, DOH Communications is referring everyone to the following DOH COVID-19 web page: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/

We are monitoring what it is taking place and the district leadership team is discussing preparations in consultation with the Health Department and Manatee County Emergency Management. 

That is all we are prepared to say today. 

Sarasota County Schools:

A representative for the school district told 8 On Your Side that they are encouraging their schools to proactively plan.

A statement reads:

“District staff will be creating a plan for our schools in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Health and the State Department of Education. We will update our entire school community as important information is shared with us by these entities. For the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus, we’ve been directed to encourage folks to visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Since this is also flu and cold season, we’ve shared these helpful CDC & DOH health and wellness tips with our staff, teachers, students and families:

  • Diligently and thoroughly wash hands
  • Cough into the sleeve of your shirt (or tissues that are properly disposed of)
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks with others
  • Continue to eat healthy foods, exercise and get adequate sleep
  • Students/staff/teachers with a fever should be excluded from school until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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