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Marble Falls school district officials have alerted parents that they are keeping an eye on the latest coronavirus and offered tips on how families can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

“We want to assure you that Marble Falls (Independent School District) is monitoring the situation through proven and trustworthy sources: our local health department, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” MFISD officials stated in a February 28 email. “These health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time.”

According to the CDC, the new coronavirus — COVID-19 — was first detected in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China in December 2019. Since then, it has been reported in more than 50 countries.

After a briefing on COVID-19 on February 27 by state and federal health agencies and organizations, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said the state is monitoring the situation.

“While there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in Texas, our state agencies are taking these precautionary steps to safeguard our communities,” he said. “The state of Texas will continue to collaborate with our federal and our local partners and will provide our communities with the necessary resources to respond to any potential cases of the coronavirus.”

The term coronavirus refers to “a large family of viruses,” according to the CDC website. The virus linked to the current outbreak that started in Wuhan has been named SARS-CoV-2. This virus causes COVID-19, which is the actual disease.

At the state level, DSHS, the lead agency for response, activated the State Medical Operations Center in January. It serves as the central information hub for local entities, collects data, and tracks public health activities.

DSHS is currently preparing two state laboratories with testing capabilities for this latest coronavirus and updating public health response plans in the event of the virus’ spread.

Marble Falls ISD leaders are working in conjunction with state and federal health officials to inform residents about the virus.

While COVID-19 is garnering much attention, preventing its spread is similar to other viruses.

“Local and federal health authorities indicate that the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are the same recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu virus and other common respiratory illnesses,” MFISD officials stated in its February 28 email.

They also noted that the flu and cold are still in season.

Prevention tips include:

  • 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.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

“Our teachers, school nurses, and staff are working carefully to encourage these simple and effective habits of frequent hand washing, covering every cough or sneeze, and cleaning classroom tables/surfaces frequently,” the district email added. “This is important not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but to help prevent the spread of other infections that can lead to student illness and absences.”

Parents with questions may contact their child’s school nurse. Other information is available on the CDC and DSHS websites.

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