San Diego schools ready plans for cleanings, closures ahead of coronavirus

SDUSD lining up contractors for deep cleanings
Posted at 4:31 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 20:12:42-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Schools in San Diego County are readying emergency plans in case the coronavirus prompts schools closures like the ones in Washington state.

At least a dozen schools in the greater Seattle area were closed Monday after health officials confirmed at least six deaths linked to the virus in that state.

The San Diego Unified School District said in addition to cleaning efforts by its custodial staff, it was lining up outside contractors who could “provide large-scale deep-cleaning of classrooms or entire schools should it become necessary.”

The County Office of Education said it planned to distribute a template pandemic response plan to all 42 districts soon with guidance on everything from prevention to post-outbreak recovery.

“We’re lucky we don’t have any cases of community spread in San Diego County, so we have some time,” said COE spokeswoman Music Watson. “We’re using that time to think through, if we need to close schools, what about e-learning? What about community kitchens?”

The Office of Education is encouraging districts to consider a range of “distance learning” options, in the event of longer-term school closures. Those options include issuing photocopies of lesson plans, posting recorded lessons online, and conducting teacher “check-ins” and tutorials by phone or web conferencing.

Several districts have sent letters home to parents in recent days encouraging discussions about hygiene and handwashing, including Sweetwater Union High School District and Chula Vista Elementary School District.

“We get that people are a little scared and we want to make sure we do as much as we can,” said CVESD spokesman Anthony Millican.

Millican said local district have experience responding to viral outbreaks. In 2009, at least three San Diego-area high schools were shuttered for cleanings after cases of H1N1.