The intensive media coverage of the coronavirus outbreak (now officially designated as COVID-19) could be raising many concerns in your local schools and colleges. It can seem overwhelming, and without focusing on facts and keeping updated on the latest official information (and recommendations), can lead to some level of panic. In an effort to help everyone stay abreast of the current status of this threat, as well as help prepare for a possible higher-risk exposure, we recommend the following steps:
1. Stay up to date, relying on trusted news sources
Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) offer comprehensive and regularly updated information. At the moment, neither agency is making specific recommendations for schools/colleges.
2. Practice Precautionary Prevention Measures
It’s helpful for all community members to keep the fears of this new disease threat in perspective. In contrast to the widespread influenza (flu) activity throughout most of the country, coronavirus infections are extremely isolated at this point. Many of the precautions against the flu are the same actions that will help protect against coronavirus and similar infectious diseases. The California Department of Public Health recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:
3. Be Prepared
Your Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) should have both a “Continuity of Operations” plan as well as a “Pandemic Influenza” annex. While the risk remains low, now is the perfect time to review these plans/annexes, practice them (anything from a simple tabletop exercise to a full-practice “drill”), and make any modifications you may need. Should the CDC and/or CDPH make recommendations regarding the closure of schools, you will be in a much better position to respond and act on these recommendations having recently exercised your EOP. If your Emergency Operations Plan does not have either of these items, FEMA offers a template specific to Pandemic Influenza:
We encourage everyone to review the latest information from the CDC and CDPH to get a better understanding of the issue, utilizing the two links below: