As the COVID-19/Coronavirus 2019 outbreak continues to evolve, we wanted to update you on what is known about Coronavirus 2019/COVID-19, what the district is doing to contain the spread of the virus, potential school closures, travel plans and additional resources. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority. We hope this information is helpful in navigating this current health crisis.
What is Coronavirus 2019/COVID-19?
The Coronavirus 2019, or COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that is spread much the same way as the common cold or flu. COVID-19 is unique in that it spreads more quickly than other strains of the Coronavirus. The virus is thought to be transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be contracted when someone touches a surface or object that is contaminated with the virus and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes. COVID-19 may result in mild to severe respiratory infections characterized by symptoms such as fever, fatigue, dry coughing and shortness of breath. Individuals between the ages of 61 and 80 are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
How is Coronavirus 2019/COVID-19 Spread?
Since COVID-19 is most readily spread from person to person it important that individuals who are feeling ill or exhibiting symptoms stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Health officials are encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer and maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from individuals who may be ill. It is important that people avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth and practice good respiratory hygiene (e.g. cover their mouths with a tissue or elbow) when they cough. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19, so the best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive measures like washing hands often and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
What is the Indianola CSD Doing to Contain Coronavirus 2019/COVID-19?
First and foremost, the Indianola CSD is encouraging all students and staff to stay at home if they are ill, particularly if they experience respiratory symptoms not associated with allergies or chronic health conditions. We are providing training and ongoing reminders about proper handwashing techniques and respiratory etiquette. We are reminding students to avoid touching their noses, mouths and eyes.
The district is also intensifying its efforts to clean and sanitize high contact surfaces. In addition to our standard sanitation practices, the district has ordered electrostatic disinfectant sprayers to enhance coverage and effectiveness of disinfectants. These systems kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses within four minutes. We have also ordered mist bottles containing a hospital grade disinfectant to be sprayed on desks and high contact surfaces when students are on breaks or away from classrooms (i.e. lunch, recess, specials). Custodians are paying particular attention to disinfecting high contact areas such as desks, doorknobs, drinking fountains, and handrails. School busses are being sanitized each day.
Will Indianola Schools Be Closed After Spring Break?
Although many colleges and universities are moving toward online coursework following spring break, the Indianola CSD will maintain normal operations for the foreseeable future. The district will continue to monitor the status of the outbreak and make decisions according to guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Warren County Health Services (WCHS) and the Iowa Department of Education (DE). These organizations are not currently recommending schools close. If this guidance changes, we will send direct communications to families using the district’s BrightArrow emergency alert system.
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has decided to suspend all face-to-face classes from March 14-29, so students attending the DMACC Career Academy, at the Southridge Center, will be impacted. DMACC will move all lecture instruction to an online format and classes requiring students to come to campus (e.g. Auto Tech, Auto Collision, and Welding) will be suspended until March 30, 2020. Students enrolled in Career Academy courses will be contacted directly by their instructors and provided specific information relative to their program.
What about Travel Plans?
With Spring Break scheduled from March 16-20, we know that many families have planned trips out of state or abroad. As of March 10, the CDC has identified five countries that are high risk areas for the spread of Coronavirus: China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends that anyone who visits these countries voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. The Indianola CSD asks that people traveling to these areas follow this recommendation, and if they show any signs of illness self-isolate. There are currently no other travel advisories or restrictions pertaining to Coronavirus/COVID-19, either internationally or domestically. However, Coronavirus/COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in nearly 100 countries and 35 states, including Iowa. When traveling, please be informed and take all necessary precautions.
Where Can I Get More Information?
The Iowa Department of Public Health, United States Centers for Disease Control, and Warren County Health Services provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to school districts. The Indianola CSD acts in accordance with this guidance. We would encourage people seeking additional information to rely on credible sources. Social media posts and many online sources often contain inaccurate or partial information. The following sources are among the most reliable sources of information regarding the Coronavirus 2019/COVID-19:
- World Health Organization
- Coronavirus FAQ
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Warren County Health Services
What Can I Do To Help?
There are a number of things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious viruses:
- If you are sick, stay at home and avoid contact with other people
- Cover your mouth with your upper arm or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- When traveling, please use caution
We know this information is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you found it helpful. We would encourage you to use the links provided to get additional information. You may also feel free to contact the district office at (515) 961-9500 if you have questions.