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Coronavirus update: DeKalb County switches to ‘virtual’ town hall; CSD announces its plans

Avondale Estates COVID-19 Crime and public safety Decatur Kirkwood Metro ATL Tucker

Coronavirus update: DeKalb County switches to ‘virtual’ town hall; CSD announces its plans

(left to right) Tom Keating and Mike Thurmond at the DeKalb Strong Candidate Forum at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga. on April 30, 2016. (File photo by Rebecca Breyer/freelance photographer)
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This story has been updated. 

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Decatur, GA – As Decatur and the nation consider social distancing in response to the coronavirus outbreak, DeKalb County has concluded that holding a town hall about the virus isn’t the best idea.

Yesterday, the Governor’s Office said there are two “presumptive” coronavirus cases in DeKalb County.

The county has scrapped plans for a public meeting, and will now host a “virtual town hall” about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

“DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, the Board of Commissioners, District Health Director Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford and DeKalb County School District Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson will host a virtual town hall meeting about the coronavirus and the county’s preparedness measures.,” the county announced. “Out of an abundance of caution, the public town hall meeting will no longer be held at Rehoboth Baptist Church.”

The virtual town hall will still be held on March 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will be live-streamed as well. To view the live stream, click here. The town hall will also be on Comcast channel 23 and streamed on the county’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ItsInDeKalbGa

“Questions also will be accepted during the town hall at 404-371-2400,” the county says.

The list of attendees includes: DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond; Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, district health director; Ramona Tyson, interim superintendent of DeKalb County School District; Jack Lumpkin, director of DeKalb County Public Safety Department; DeKalb County Board of Commissioners; DeKalb County Board of Health; and DeKalb County Government staff.

In other coronavirus news, City Schools of Decatur has announced how it will deal with coronavirus if and when it is detected among the school district’s students or staff.

“District leaders and principals are evaluating plans for field trips (local, state, and international), extracurricular activities, school and district events, etc,” the school district said in a letter to parents. “Announcements about cancellations or plans to reschedule, should that become necessary, will be announced by schools and the district as soon as decisions are made.

“We have plans for the event that we have to close schools. Any decision to close schools will be in consultation with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the CDC, the DeKalb Board of Health, and/or other state and federal agencies as appropriate. Principals are meeting with their staffs today to discuss school-specific plans. While we are aware that no at-home learning option can replace or substitute for classroom teaching, these contingency plans include providing supplemental and/or enrichment resources and opportunities for students. Our plans include a phased approach that depends on the number of days school may have to be closed. We will share details of relevant phases should the need arise.”

Here is the full letter from CSD to parents:

Dear CSD Community,

What we know:

Public health officials have confirmed more COVID-19 cases in Georgia, including a Fulton County Schools employee. We are aware of two presumptive cases in DeKalb County. City Schools of Decatur has not received notice of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Decatur or DeKalb County.

What we are doing:

The CSD Emergency Operations Team is closely monitoring the situation, following the guidance of federal, state, and local agencies. We are adjusting our emergency operations plans as necessary.

Maintenance and custodial staff continue to clean and sanitize our schools. Bus drivers are following our regular procedures for cleaning and sanitizing buses. We use products that have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to the 2019 novel coronavirus (also 2019-nCoV). In addition, we have plans to address sanitizing should a case of COVID-19 be identified in one or more of our schools.

School staff and nurses continue to educate students about following the prevention guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH):

– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– Stay home when you are sick. CSD requires keeping students home until they are 24 hours fever-free without medication.

– Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, throw the tissue in the trash and then wash your hands.

– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

District leaders and principals are evaluating plans for field trips (local, state, and international), extracurricular activities, school and district events, etc. Announcements about cancellations or plans to reschedule, should that become necessary, will be announced by schools and the district as soon as decisions are made.

We have plans for the event that we have to close schools. Any decision to close schools will be in consultation with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the CDC, the DeKalb Board of Health, and/or other state and federal agencies as appropriate. Principals are meeting with their staffs today to discuss school-specific plans. While we are aware that no at-home learning option can replace or substitute for classroom teaching, these contingency plans include providing supplemental and/or enrichment resources and opportunities for students. Our plans include a phased approach that depends on the number of days school may have to be closed. We will share details of relevant phases should the need arise.

What families can do:

– Continue to check for updates on our website (https://www.csdecatur.net/covid19) and in other communication mechanisms.

– Reinforce and model healthy preventative practices, such as washing hands and staying home from school or work when ill.

– Parents should log into the Infinite Campus Parent Portal (https://campus.csdecatur.org/campus/portal/decatur.jsp) and confirm family contact information, especially cell phone and email, is current. Contact your school’s main office if you need assistance logging into the Parent Portal.

– Consistent with our standard practices, be aware that if your child becomes ill at school and needs to be picked up, we request that the student be picked up within 1 hour of notification.

– Respond to inquiries from your school in a timely manner as we work to determine families’ access to technology and need for food assistance.

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