No need to close schools for coronavirus, health official advises
Thursday, March 5, 2020
A public health official advised Thursday against protectively closing schools because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“As of right now, COVID-19 is not severe enough or widespread enough to proactively implement preventive school closures or cancelations of communal events,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, lead health officer for the Portland tri-county region, during a news conference. She said no closure thresholds have been set.
The Oregon Health Authority has urged school leaders to consult with their local health agencies.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said the nonprofit association supports the new guidance based on the best information currently available to health authorities.
“Our health and education leaders in Oregon are working closely together as this situation evolves,” Green said. “Our primary goal is keeping kids and communities safe, and what research and experience are telling us now is that we should be trying to keep our schools open as we work through this.”
Vines said the coronavirus impact on communities is expected to be similar to a bad flu season. She asked that people stay home if they are sick and only seek health care if they otherwise would.
School administrators have praised the response by OHA and the Oregon Department of Education. ODE has created a coronavirus page that includes resource documents for schools and families in eight languages. An OHA page offers up-to-date information on the outbreak. The National School Boards Association also offers resources and tools.