Coronavirus prompts school closures, precautionary directives

Updated March 3, 2019, 9:07 a.m., with news that the Gov. Brad Little will hold a press conference on coronavirus.

Concerns over the growing coronavirus epidemic prompted school closures and a spate of precautionary directives and information from local and state leaders Monday.

The Genesee and Troy school districts canceled classes and deep cleaned facilities over concerns that out-of-state students who visited their schools may have carried the virus, the Lewiston Tribune reported. The Boise School District issued a memo to parents and staff regarding the concerns about the epidemic.

When it comes to the novel coronavirus, we want to reassure you that the Boise School District has a plan in place to keep our students and staff as safe as possible,” Boise administrators wrote. 

No known cases of the virus had surfaced in Idaho as of Monday afternoon, according to Central District Health, but residents in at least three of Idaho’s neighboring states — Washington, Oregon and Utah — had contracted the disease, according to the New York Times. The virus had infected 18 and killed at least six in Washington State as of Monday.

Other districts have yet to make public statements.

“We’ll be sending out helpful tips in a parent newsletter this month,” Bonneville School District spokesman Phil Campbell told EdNews.

A State Department of Education press release walked educators and families through “helpful links and resources” related to the virus, including an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare webpage devoted to “Idaho-specific” information.

The SDE offered rudimentary pointers for students and educators:

  • Staying home if sick.
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
  • Covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, ears and nose.

The SDE also shared a Center for Disease Control fact sheet on the disease and recommended procedures for those infected.

“Idahoans have many questions about coronavirus, and making answers and helpful information widely available helps calm concerns and encourage precautions,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra.

Gov. Brad Little will hold a press conference on coronavirus Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office, according to a press release from Monday. The event can be streamed lived on the governor’s Facebook page.

As of Monday afternoon, American authorities reported a total of 96 coronavirus cases nationwide, the New York Times reported.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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