Masks, gloves, and other protective supplies are displayed during a visit of Vice President Mike Pence, Thursday, March 5, 2020 to Camp Murray in Washington state. Pence was in Washington to discuss the state’s efforts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Masks, gloves, and other protective supplies are displayed during a visit of Vice President Mike Pence, Thursday, March 5, 2020 to Camp Murray in Washington state. Pence was in Washington to discuss the state’s efforts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

School district bans out-of-state travel

The district also launched a webpage to inform families and the community about COVID-19.

The school district has canceled all district- and school-sponsored travel outside of Alaska and launched a webpage to inform families and the community about COVID-19.

The webpage, which was launched Tuesday on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website, includes a letter from Superintendent John O’Brien and answers questions from parents about how the district is responding to the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family that first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

In his letter, O’Brien said the district has developed plans to ensure the school district is able to operate should COVID-19 be detected.The plans include the district’s response, logistics and the potential for providing education in the event that one or more schools and communities are impacted by COVID-19.

“The safety and well-being of our students, staff, families, and community is always center to our mission,” O’Brien wrote in his letter.

Effective Tuesday, the district canceled all out-of-state travel. In-state travel has not been impacted. Spring break begins for most of the district’s schools next week. O’Brien emphasized the importance of not putting students and faculty at risk.

“I do not make this decision to cancel travel lightly,” O’Brien said in his letter. “The risk that staff or groups of students would be exposed to by contracting COVID-19, or becoming quarantined for an extended period of time out of state due to school or work related travel is too great, with so many unknowns at this time.”

O’Brien said the district is working with local and state agencies to make a plan for emergency school closures should there be a confirmed case of the virus.

School nurses have been made aware of the latest COVID-19 information, such as screening requirements, symptoms and actions to take in the event of a suspected or confirmed case. If a case is confirmed, the district has the supplies to sanitize buildings, according to the webpage.

The district said it is developing plans for an “alternate means to educate students,” in the case of a school closure. This plan may include providing assignments via mail, email or district online learning platforms.

“The district recognizes that not every student has online access from home, and is taking this into account,” the district said on its webpage.

The webpage will be updated as new information and resources are available to share.

COVID-19 is a relative of the SARS and MERS viruses, which have caused outbreaks in the past. Symptoms for the disease include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble.

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