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Curtailing some trips and cleaning more: Fayette schools prepare for coronavirus.

Lexington Herald-Leader - 3/6/2020

Mar. 6--Lexington public school officials are monitoring school board-approved staff and student travel, "curtailing trips to areas of elevated risk," and putting an increased emphasis on cleaning schools as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Superintendent Manny Caulk told families about the measures in a letter Friday afternoon. He said that as an organization, Fayette County Public Schools has a proven record of prioritizing health and safety and developing a comprehensive response: "Our approach to the novel Coronavirus 2019 (known as COVID-19) is no different."

Carulk noted that there had been no reports of the virus in Lexington-Fayette County or Kentucky as of Friday afternoon. But he said Fayette County Public Schools officials are working closely with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, and other community agencies to monitor the virus and ensure a comprehensive public health response if that is warranted.

"Our district is prepared to take all steps necessary to keep our students, staff and families safe, while recognizing the importance of letting facts, rather than fear, determine our actions," Caulk said. District officials said recently in a statement that they were prepared to close schools if need be.

With spring break approaching, Caulk revealed that the district would be curtailing trips to areas with elevated risks and encouraged parents to check both U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control websites to get updates on international and domestic destinations.

He said families might notice an increased emphasis on hygiene and handwashing in schools and that the district will also increase the frequency of cleaning high traffic areas and equipment, which he said were preventative measures and not an indication that something is wrong. He said district officials will communicate about any cases of coronavirus that occur in the community or schools.

Caulk asked parents to talk with children at home about the importance of handwashing and to practice proper techniques. Donations to schools of hand sanitizers and tissues are welcome, Caulk said.

Caulk said it's critical that families guard against discrimination or stigmatization of any student, family or employee.

"As we prepare for the unknown, it is critical that we make decisions grounded in fact and act with compassion. The most vulnerable among us are likely to need support from those who have additional capacity. I have personally experienced the generosity of Lexington and I know we will come together and take care of each other," said Caulk.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has established a hotline and information center where people can get answers to their questions. Residents can call 859-899-2222 or send an email to COVID19@lfchd.org. The school district also has placed information on its website.

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