Update as of 3:51 p.m., Friday, March 13: Officials with the Union County School District have released the following statement regarding next week's closures:
"The Union County School District administrators and leaders have been monitoring and planning strategies to address the Coronavirus. President Donald Trump has declared the Coronavirus a National Emergency for our country. The Union County School Board, superintendent and administrators are committed to making sure the health and safety of our staff and students are a top priority. Therefore, Spring Break will be extended for the week of March 16-20. All sporting events and school activities will be suspended until at least March 23.
"The School Board and administrators will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions regarding the best interest for our students and staff. Updates will be provided through social media and our school information system."
Update as of 3:35 p.m., Friday, March 13: Both New Albany and Union County school districts announced Friday afternoon that they will extend Spring Break through March 20.
The decisions made by the administrations for both districts were announced following President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Lance Evans, superintendent for New Albany Schools, released the following statement on Twitter shortly before 3 p.m.:
"Administrators and leaders from the New Albany School District have been meeting throughout the day (March 13, 2020) to determine the best course of action for our students and staff members. Our school board and administrative team are committed to making safety and health a top priority for our students. This afternoon, President Donald Trump issued a national emergency for our country. After learning of this information, the decision has been made to close school for students and staff during the week of March 16-20. In addition, all school events, athletic events and athletic practices have been suspended until at least March 23. Next week, the administrative team will continue to meet and work to make informed decisions regarding our students, their education and their health and safety. We plan to provide an official update on Tuesday, March 17."
As faculty, staff and students prepare to return to New Albany and Union County schools next week from Spring Break, officials from both school districts say they are monitoring the growing concerns surrounding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr. Lance Evans, superintendent of New Albany Schools released a statement early Thursday afternoon following a press conference from Mississippi State Department of Health in which officials announced the state's first confirmed COVID-19 case.
"We are currently monitoring the situation regarding the COVID-19 virus," the statement read. "Our administrative team and our school board want to ensure that the health and safety of our students and staff remain a top priority during this time. Using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, we have had a plan in place for several weeks regarding cleaning and disinfecting, as well as educational awareness. We will consistently seek guidance from and follow the direction of the Mississippi Department of Education, the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the Mississippi Department of Health. In addition, we will be in close contact with our local medical community for advisement. We will continue to make updates and post any important announcements on our social media outlets throughout the weekend."
Officials with the school district said its custodial staff has been instructed to clean with virucidal disinfectant cleaner and to also use an industrial grade disinfectant to spray surfaces such as doors, door handles and areas that are frequently touched at least twice during the school day. In addition, teachers were advised to clean their classrooms and work spaces with disinfectant wipes and cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers are available for teachers to use if needed.
Union County School District officials said the same precautions are being taken at each East Union, Ingomar, Myrtle and West Union.
"Our custodians are working this week; they are sanitizing the schools," Windy Faulkner, assistant superintendent for the county school district, said.
Faulkner said signs have been printed out to post around each school and district officials have been in contact with the school nurses regarding in-house training with students and staff to guard against the virus' spread.
Officials with both school districts pointed to practices as outlined by the CDC to prevent potential outbreak. These practices are:
- · coughing into the elbow
- · using tissues and disposing of them properly
- · washing hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- · avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- · avoid sharing personal items with others
- · avoid eating or drinking after others
- · stay home when sick
For more information regarding COVID-19, including its origin and symptoms, visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.