SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Following county health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Santa Barbara Unified School District announced it is preparing its response to potential impacts of the coronavirus.
While no cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Santa Barbara County at this time, district officials are preparing by reviewing procedures for emergency response plans.
These plans include: instructing students and staff to wash hands frequently and sneeze into their sleeve, alerting health officials to any spikes in absences due to respiratory illnesses, routinely cleaning surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops, sending students and staff home when they're sick and communicating regularly with students, families and staff to provide them with resources and information.
The school district said general emergency response strategies are already in place, especially after the recent fires and Montecito mudslides.
Like other school districts across the nation, SB school officials are relying on coronavirus guidelines for schools created and updated by the CDC.
The school district said these plans are designed to help keep campuses healthy and safe while minimizing disruptions to teaching and learning and protecting students and staff from social stigma and discrimination.
“We will continue to collaborate, share information, and review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community, including those with special health needs,” said SB Unified School District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka. “While there are no cases of coronavirus in our county, this is an appropriate time for schools to prepare in the event that students or staff become ill.”
SBUSD officials said they use Parentsquare and the district website to communicate and share resources with the school community.
One question has already come up around several previously scheduled school trips on the calendar. In consultation with county health officials, the district said they are following the recommendations made by the state department travel advisories.
At this time, all SBUSD school trips are proceeding as planned. However, the distrcit said schools may need to postpone or cancel trips if travel advisories change.
Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, said school officials are taking their lead from county health officials as worst-case scenario plans are being developed.
“In the event that we do need to close a school, we will make determinations at that point as to the best course of response and maintain regular communication with county health officials each step of the way,” Wageneck said.