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School district puts precautionary measures in place

March 11, 2020
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The School District of Lee County has put measures in place to help mitigate any spread of the new coronavirus.

Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said Monday afternoon that good communication among district employees and district families is key, especially since COVID-19 cases have been confirmed locally.

To provide information for parents, staff and members of the community, the district has developed a webpage on its website solely dedicated to the COVID-19 virus, Health Services Coordinator Elizabeth Wipf told those attending the School Board's afternoon session.

The page,, has information as to what parents can do to protect their children, as well as the community, and what the district is doing in the schools to prevent the spread of the disease, she added.

The website also provides links to the Center for Disease Control, as well as local and state guidelines and information pertaining to schools directly.

"Parents are able to go on this website and get a lot of their questions answered. As we get updated information, which seems to be coming in daily, we are adding that to the website," Wipf said.

Another measure the district has taken is one done each flu season -- having the maintenance department and its custodians to continue to do "deep cleaning" at all facilities.

"Lee Health indicated two spikes in terms of flu in Lee County and are expecting to have a third one after Spring Break. That is also a very serious thing that has resulted in a number of deaths in Lee County as a result of the flu. Our maintenance department and custodians do the deep cleaning and have chemicals that are effective for the virus and COVID-19. We will continue to communicate to the public," Adkins said.

Buses also are a part of the deep cleaning measures, which are done every day using cleaning products that are of strength and are specified to kill viruses.

Principals, meanwhile, were all briefed last week to inform them of the plans that are in place -- what the district has done so far, and the monitoring that is underway.

The district also met last week -- the executive team, chiefs and superintendent -- with Lee Health physicians to keep them informed and prevent the spread of the virus.

"We are tracking signs and symptoms in our clinics on a daily basis and absentee increases on a daily basis," Wipf said, adding that she is in daily communication with the local Department of Health office and weekly with the Department of Health at the state level.

Wipf said although the Health Department has given the district signs and symptoms that are common for the virus, which mimics the flu, it is not their job in the schools to test for the virus.

"We are making parents aware with the signs and symptoms. They must contact their health care providers for testing and treatments," she said.

A pandemic plan is in place, just in case the Health department and CDC announces that the disease has become more widespread in the U.S.

With Spring Break in the near future, the district has also had a meeting with the chiefs and superintendent to create a plan for when staff and students return from the break. Wipf said if families, and staff, decide to travel outside of the country to the five identified countries at Level 2 or 3 threat, or choose to travel on a cruise ship, there is a specific plan for reentry into the schools.

The Centers for Disease Control has three levels of travel advisories, with Level 1 being the lowest caution and Level 3 being the highest. As of Tuesday morning, China, Iran, Italy and South Korea on the Level 3 list with Japan designated as a Level 2 advisory.

Adkins said that plan includes self quarantine if one comes into contact with an individual known to have the virus. He said the individual has to be in contact with a health official, doctor or health department, and they have to have some type of certification to come back into the school district.

"We are going forward with Spring Break. People are going to be traveling," Adkins said. "We are getting out some guidance to the expectations to students and staff if they travel abroad."

Wipf said they have taken a proactive approach.

"I'm very proud of the efforts to keep our students, staff and district safe. It is inevitable that it is going to spread. We have great plans in place, as well as continuous communication to keep us informed and safe," she said.



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