Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story and see our ongoing coronavirus coverage here.
FLORENCE, Ky. — Starting Monday, students at Boone County Schools will be using non-traditional instruction at home amid Kentucky's state of emergency for coronavirus. It is the first public school system in the area to keep students out of campus buildings for an extended period of time.
Students are required to be at school Thursday, March 12 to receive instructions from teachers and principals, and details will be provided to parents later.
“Starting Monday, March 16 up to Monday, April 20, instruction will be delivered for students during the day while at home,” read a Facebook update from Superintendent Randy Poe. "However, if the State of Emergency is lifted before April 20 we may resume classes."
School cafeterias will remain open to provide breakfasts and take-out lunches for students who receive free and reduced lunches. Families will need to contact their school's cafeteria to place a breakfast or lunch request. Find cafeteria phone numbers on the district’s website.
The district advised parents call school offices with questions about planned school events, field trips and sports.
“We are taking these measures after Governor Beshear declared a State of Emergency in Kentucky and in accordance with the guidelines put out by the Northern Kentucky Health Department,” Poe wrote. “Non-Traditional Instruction and event cancellations are being done out of an abundance of caution and to help stem the tide of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Your child’s health and safety are our first priority.”
As of Wednesday, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky. There are currently eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Boone County parent Jennifer Burke understands the decision, but with three kids, she said the district's decision makes things tough.
“Our kids go to the daycare, so it’s not only affecting our fifth grader, but it’s also affecting our youngest kids too," Burke told WCPO Wednesday night.
Parent Jessica Faulkner, a single mother, said the recent announcement has left her with few options. Both say they learned the news through social media.
“I can’t take my kid with me to work, can’t take him around hazmat," she told WCPO. "It’s like a ridiculously scary, dangerous job. So, kids can’t ride along with you at work.”
Though Faulkner has some support, she's not exactly sure what she'll do.
“They really, really need to think of the impact it’s going to have on families across the district," she said.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.