Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Monitoring and Response Bulletin
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19). Please remember, the risk to residents of South Carolina remains low at this time.
Stopping the spread of the virus through everyday practices (see poster) is the best way to keep people healthy. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and are similar to a cold or influenza. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Who is at risk?
Of the current known cases, children appear to be the least at risk. Those most at risk are the elderly, immunocompromised, or adults with certain pre-existing conditions. More information on COVID-19, such as prevention, treatment, and how it is spread, is available on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
Is COVID-19 active in South Carolina?
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has identified both confirmed and presumptive cases across the state of South Carolina. DHEC continues to be in communication with state agencies and community partners. The CDC keeps current (updated weekdays at noon) a map tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on the CDC website.
What is GCS doing to prepare for possible COVID-19 cases?
Greenville County Schools (GCS) has been actively involved in pandemic preparedness planning with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and local emergency response planners and agencies since spring of 2005. A portion of the District-wide Emergency Response document is dedicated to a comprehensive plan for responding to pandemics. That plan includes steps to ensure continuity of operations (such as financial obligations, building maintenance, and security) in the face of excessive absences and growing community alarm.
It also considers steps that would be taken to control the outbreak, in concert with governmental agencies such as the DHEC and the CDC, and provide continuity of service to students.
What response steps are we taking?
The stepped response found in the GCS Emergency Plan is meant to correspond to the seriousness of a local outbreak. Our responses are as follows:
- On March 24, Governor McMaster announced that all South Carolina schools, including Greenville, will remain closed through April 30. As we continue to follow the existing GCS calendar to the extent possible, Spring Break will be observed as scheduled for the week of April 13.
- On Monday, March 16, GCS launched eLearning for all students. Students are using Chromebooks or printable assignments to complete lessons.
- eLearning and Google Classroom figure prominently into plans for secondary students and older elementary students, while those in primary grades (PK-2) are provided printable assignments. Knowing that students in primary grades may not have access to technology and many older students do not live in homes with internet connectivity, these plans require individualized solutions for some students.
- Students without internet connection can connect to Wi-Fi in the parking lots of any Greenville County school between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit one of our Meal Delivery sites between 10 AM – Noon Monday through Friday to connect to bus Wi-Fi. If transportation is not available, families can contact the school for delivery.
- Presently, IEP/504 meetings are suspended while we seek additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Wednesday and Thursday, March 25-26, GCS will begin distributing materials that will take students through the week of April 20. Students without internet connection can connect to Wi-Fi in the parking lots of any Greenville County school between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit one of our Meal Delivery sites between 10 AM – Noon Monday through Friday to connect to bus Wi-Fi. If transportation is not available, families can contact the school for delivery. Electronic lessons will be pushed out to grades 3 through 12 via Google Classroom.
- To ensure the students of Greenville County Schools continue to receive healthy and nutritious meals during the time schools are closed in response to COVID-19, Greenville County Schools is providing breakfast and lunch free of charge to anyone 18 and younger and special needs adults through the age of 21 at 15 school locations and 66 community sites in areas of highest economic need. Meals are prepared in our school facilities by trained Food and Nutrition Services Staff. All existing DHEC and FDA approved procedures for meal prep, storage, service, and sanitation will be observed.
- Buses will be at each site between 10 AM and noon Monday through Friday to deliver meals. Parents and students will have access to free Wi-Fi via the bus hot spot during these hours.
- 4K preregistration and screening for April 1-3, 2020 are cancelled. Alternate 4K screening plans will be announced once we return to our regular school schedule.
- Charter Spectrum - Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households. With this service students with district Chromebooks will have internet access. Please be very clear with the provider of the terms of the agreement and the point at which any charges may assessed.