Local schools prepare coronavirus contingency plan

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (WTVG) - Right now there are no confirmed or suspected cases of the Coronavirus in Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to consider the risk low in the United States.

Thursday, Japan closed all schools for about a month as a precaution, which begs the question - are local schools prepared should the virus spread in our community?

Ever since the CDC warned Americans this week to prepare for "significant disruption" should the Coronavirus spread in their communities, local school districts have been developing plans on how to continue learning if school can't continue in the traditional classroom.

Snow meant no school Thursday for Perrysburg students. If the Coronavirus spread here, it could lead to no school for much longer -- presenting unique challenges.

"It would be very disruptive, and that's really concerning," said Perrysburg Schools superintendent Tom Hosler.

Hosler said Japanese schools shutting down for about a month caught the attention of educators everywhere.

"How do we deal with, you know, the health and wellness of our students and staff, you know, if people start to contract this and they're out for an extended period of time," said Hosler.

Hosler recalls H1N1, Ebola, and even the water crisis as situations the district dealt with and prepared for in the past.

"We're kind of pulling that out, looking at where did we leave off with those conversations. So, it's really taking that plan that really just sits there. We're hoping that that's where we are here in another six months that, well, another folder that we can just file away," said Hosler.

Perrysburg Schools are in the early stages of creating a Coronavirus contingency plan. Conversations are in the works with other local school districts, universities, and health departments.

"Preparing for that 'what if,'" said Hosler.

The Ohio Department of Education released a statement to 13abc.

"We are working in partnership with our colleagues at the Ohio Department of Health, who have been in close communication with officials at the Centers for Disease Control. We have communicated information to schools from the Ohio Department of Health about best practices for reducing the spread of illness as well as information about current disease concerns such as the flu and coronavirus. We will continue to work together with the Department of Health to ensure that Ohio schools have the most up-to-date information," said Mandy Minick Deputy Director of Communications/Press Secretary of the ODE."

"From the HR perspective, to the instructional aspect, to the health and wellness aspect, there's lots of wrinkles to look at," said Hosler.

Regardless if the physical buildings would need to close, Hosler said education wouldn't stop. Online platforms could be an option for continued learning from home.

"Planning for the worst case and hoping for the best case," said Hosler.

Hosler said parents can expect communication about this to be sent home soon.

He said area superintendents plan to meet next week to collaborate on contingency plans should the virus spread here.