RRISD Addresses Coronavirus Concerns

With the rampant increase of novel coronavirus around the world, along with the equally rapid increase of victims, the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) issued a mandate in hopes of quelling local concerns of the coronavirus epidemic. The respiratory virus only needs six feet to spread between people, and the 11 cases of the virus that have already been reported in San Antonio are bringing heightened precautions to the community. Nurses in the school district are already looking out for the signs when students report symptoms. 

“Anyone who has a fever, we’ll ask them if they’ve been exposed to anyone who has traveled outside the country or if they’ve traveled outside the country,” school nurse Barbara Walker said. “We’re looking for signs of shortness of breath, cough, or lower respiratory illness, fever, and the history of having traveled outside the country. Those are our main things right now.”

Previously, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Flores put a district mandate into place to prevent students and staff returning from China from attending school, as per the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for the 14 day quarantine. Concerns over the Chinese Cultural Festival last month were also addressed, with the district allowing the festival to take place. As they continue to monitor the situation, a new webpage was launched to post new updates and inform the public about future worries.

“While no cases have been suspected among our local community, we are in daily contact with health officials,” the webpage says. “Public health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time, but we understand that this is a source of concern to the community and will remain vigilant in monitoring and responding to this every-evolving situation.”

The webpage then continues to address how the district is screening for the coronavirus and keeping the community safe. New resources help to clean and disinfect school campuses thoroughly after events with large crowds. By taking precautionary measures, the school staff hopes to prevent any future cases or rapid spread of the virus. 

It’s just like the flu,” Walker said. “The main thing is to wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick. That’s the big one, stay home if you’re sick. Wash your hands. All the same things as to prevent the spread of the flu.”

Finally, the webpage also illustrates what would happen if a high number of coronavirus cases in the local area causes schools to close. Currently, if absent students because of the flu reach higher than 15%, schools in Texas can close. A similar situation will then happen with the virus, if it comes to Austin. If the virus then becomes widespread, the Texas Education Agency will waive attendance requirements.

Coronavirus is not currently a local concern, but with its vicinity in the area, precautions are necessary to keep the community safe. By keeping a close connection with the community and keeping them informed with any new developments, RRISD hopes to alleviate some of the worries in this ongoing situation.