As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to come up, Paoli High School and surrounding schools are taking actions and precautions to keep their students and staff as safe as possible. Because the coronavirus was confirmed to be in Indiana, PHS is at a Level 2 on the severity scale. As a result, the school has to send out parent letters, have hand wipes or sanitizers available, put wipes near the copy machines and in workrooms and limit school meetings and assemblies. Teachers must prop doors open and nurses are to wear protective masks when needed. Students and staff should also avoid unnecessary contact.
When the virus has many confirmed cases and is growing rapidly in Indiana, Paoli High School will be at a Level 3 on the severity scale.
“At this point, it’s not a matter of if we get to Level 3, it’s a matter of when we get to Level 3,” said Superintendent Greg Walker.
At Level 3, students may not share utensils, all visitors will be reduced to essential staff only, the staff must clean handrails, doorknobs and water fountains hourly and only teachers will be allowed to open classroom doors. Cafeteria workers must punch students’ numbers, wipe rails and wash student dishes twice, and bus drivers must wipe down seats before and after routes and wipe down the handrails as often as possible. Also at Level 3, PHS must consider cancelling after school activities, athletes must stop sharing water bottles, and students will self-grade paperwork. There will also be door openers for the morning rush, doorbells will be wiped down often and money handlers must wear gloves. Teachers must start preparing for e-learning days as well.
When PHS has reached a Level 4 or 5, the school corporation will start to consider requiring students to stay home.
“The County Health Department decides if and when school will be closed, which would be led by Dr. Jose Lopez, the local health officer,” said Walker.
According to Orange County Health Coalition’s Facebook page, any changes in protocol will be sent from the State Department of Health and will then be acted upon.
“We are monitoring the status of the COVID-19 virus frequently throughout and updates weekly led by Indiana State Department of Health staff,” said Lopez on their Facebook post.
If PHS does close, the duration of the closure will be decided by the Health Department.
“I have begun to tell teachers to prepare two weeks worth of work just in case,” said Walker.
For the full severity list of the coronavirus/pandemic response plan, visit phs.paoli.k12.in.us.
Story by Gracie Walls