When it comes to the coronavirus, San Diego County is focused on prevention and preparedness. The San Diego County Public Health Lab can now test for the virus, instead of sending the specimens to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who could have the virus will not have to wait as long for the results. It is one way to contain the spread, according to public health officials.
The San Diego County Office of Education is also working closely with public health officials to make sure all school districts have a plan.
Step one is prevention.
"That's things like coughing into your elbow, wash your hands, ask your maintenance and operation teams to wash down surfaces and be careful about disinfecting surfaces," said Music Watson chief of staff for the County Office of Education.
Step two is Preparedness.
Do districts have a pandemic plan?
"Do you have a plan to isolate students who might come to school with a fever? Do you give a plan for food services? What's your plan for staff absences?" said Watson.
Watson said the County Office of Education shared with districts a pandemic planning checklist from the CDC so districts can start working through those steps.
Step three is response.
If the disease does spread, districts must be ready to adjust and respond to the situation. What would happen to student learning if schools had to close, as they did in China and Japan, for example? Online learning would be key, but not all districts have the technology for that, and not all places have access to the internet. Those districts might have to consider a plan to send home packets for learning.
"San Diego County is really big, our school districts have different needs, so we're just monitoring the situation, and as we prepare, we can adjust our plans accordingly," said Watson. "We know we will be in better shape, the more prepared we are."