With the Coronavirus now declared a pandemic, preventive measures are now being taken nationwide to eliminate the spread of this flu-type disease.
Here in Wisconsin, at least 34 coronavirus cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began, with the first in Outagamie County being confirmed on March 16, and one patient recovering.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk and should take the proper precautions.
COVID-19 is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
“The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose,” said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick.”
Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.
Governor Tony Evers has ordered the closure of all schools in Wisconsin. Besides the closing of the Seymour Area School District, other local entities are taking precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19 from possibly developing in their facilities.
March 13, Seymour Community School District Superintendent Laurie Asher released a letter to students and parents addressing how Seymour schools would respond to Governor Evers mandate to close all Wisconsin schools by March 18.
Students attended school on Monday March 16. Asher said in her letter, “This will allow us to work with the students as we prepare for their continued learning, allow students to collect anything they need from school and give families time to prepare for needs related to school closure.”
Asher said Seymour school buildings are closed to students and the public March 17-April 3 tentatively, including all extra-curricular activities. The Fitness and Aquatic Center will also be closed during this time.
Teachers are expected to continue educating and engaging students through what Asher is calling “alternative instruction”. The curriculum over the coming weeks will be taught through a combination of online platforms as well as worksheets and workbooks. The school is taking measures to ensure children in households without internet won’t be left behind.
Asher said the teaching method could include working from home, although the schools will remain open to staff until further notice. The exact method of teaching will be determined by the end of the day Thursday, March 19, and parents will be notified.
“We will be cognizant of social distancing and will comply with any new government orders as they come through,” Asher said.
Students are expected to return to school April 14 after spring break, although extra-curricular activities are expected to resume on April 3, given circumstances around the virus improve.
While the schools are closed, six designated pick-up sites will be made available throughout the district for both breakfasts and lunches. Meals are available to all school families, members 18 years and under.
Meals can be picked up Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the following locations: St. Sebastian parking lot (Isaar), Community Center parking lot / baseball diamond (Nichols), Town Hall parking lot (Osborn), Recreational Center (Oneida), Rock Ledge Intermediate front entrance (Seymour) and Black Creek Elementary School front entrance.
Shiocton School District has released informative letters on their website to address parents, students and staff about the upcoming curriculum changes.
Shiocton schools remained open on Monday March 16 in preparation for the building closures in the weeks ahead. Teachers used this day to ensure students were able to access their email accounts for the coming weeks while school buildings are closed.
Tuesday, March 17, was a no school day for students in all grades.
Digital learning days (DLD) are scheduled to take place March 18-24, morning only March 25, and March 30-April 3, for students grades K-12.
The DLD learning style incorporates hand-written assignments, novel and textbook reading, and digital media programs to assist with working through lesson plans, instruction notes/narratives, resources, assignments and assessments.
Teachers will email lessons plans to students and/or parents by 7:30 a.m. each morning. In the emails, the teachers will also list their office hours, during which they can be reached via email to answer questions and help with assignments. Hours will vary between morning and afternoon blocks.
Parents were asked to contact their child’s teacher if the child will not have access to internet.
Additionally, if student households do not have internet access, they are encouraged to contact Charter Communications (Spectrum) at 1-844-488-8395.
In a press release on March 13, Charter announced it will be opening its wifi and broadband networks for 60 days for free to K-12 and college student households that do not already have internet access. This free service began operating March 16. More information can be found on the Charter communications website.
District Administrator Nichole Schweitzer shared information with the Board regarding the District’s response to the COVID-19 school closure mandate. Schweitzer said, “In addition to implementing digital learning days, the District has created a plan for deep cleaning each of the three weeks. Plans are also developing regarding the provision of meals to children ages 1-18. The District is planning to provide “grab & go” bags for breakfast and lunch. Students are able to pick up meals at the school; the District is looking into meal delivery options.”
Shiocton Child Care Center closed on Thursday, March 19, and Friday, March 20, continuing through April 5, tentatively.
For the full story and information from the Chief of Police on city actions, please purchase an issue of the Times Press, released on Thursday, March 19.
Managing Editors Keith Skenandore and Linda Titel, and Reporter Katie Kovacs contributed to this article.