What is COVID-19?

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19). Please remember, the risk to residents of South Carolina remains low at this time.

Stopping the spread of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and are similar to a cold or influenza. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Who is at risk?

Of the current known cases, children appear to be the least at risk.  Those most at risk are the elderly, immunocompromised, or adults with certain pre-existing conditions. More information on COVID-19, such as prevention, treatment, and how it is spread, is available on the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Is COVID-19 active in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has identified both confirmed and presumptive cases across the state of South Carolina. DHEC continues to be in communication with state agencies and community partners. The CDC keeps current (updated weekdays at noon) a map tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on the CDC website.

What is CCSD doing to prepare for possible COVID-19 cases?

According to guidance given by the CDC, in communities like ours, where COVID-19 is NOT active, the most important thing for school districts to do now is plan and prepare.

Cherokee County Schools (CCSD) has been actively involved in pandemic preparedness planning with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and local emergency response planners and agencies. A portion of the District-wide Emergency Response document is dedicated to a comprehensive plan for responding to pandemics.  That plan includes steps to ensure continuity of operations (such as financial obligations, building maintenance, and security) in the face of excessive absences and growing community alarm.  It also considers steps that would be taken to control the outbreak, in concert with governmental agencies such as the DHEC and the CDC, and provide continuity of service to students.

How will CCSD respond if there is a local outbreak?

The stepped response found in the CCSD Emergency Plan is meant to correspond to the seriousness of a local outbreak.  Educational responses may range from:

  • increased communications about keeping symptomatic students home;
  • to coordinated student handwashing and increased cleaning of hard surfaces such as doorknobs and desks;
  • to cancellation of extra-curricular events;
  • up to and including school closure.
  • eLearning and Google Classroom will figure prominently into plans for secondary students and older elementary students, while those in primary grades (PK-2) might be provided printable exercises to hone their numeracy and literacy skills. Knowing that students in primary grades may not have access to technology and many older students do not live in homes with internet connectivity, these plans will require individualized solutions for some students. Our ability to provide those individualized solutions would depend, in part, on the restrictions put in place by DHEC through the Emergency Health Powers Act. The full impact of such a scenario cannot fully be known ahead of time.

Should a case of coronavirus be confirmed by DHEC among our students or staff, CCSD will immediately notify all parents and provide recommendations and next steps. CCSD will make every effort to continue providing educational programming in an age-appropriate manner. Doing so is important to maintain learning and to provide students with a sense of normalcy and a positive focus during a stressful situation.

What is CCSD doing now in response to the spread of coronavirus?

In addition to monitoring both the spread of COVID-19 and any recommendations by the CDC, here are the steps CCSD is taking to prepare for this possible emergency. Please remember, the risk to residents of South Carolina remains low at this time.

As you know, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered all schools to close immediately. As a result, Cherokee County Schools will be closed beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of April. School district leaders have been preparing for this eventuality for the last few weeks. All regular district employees will report to work on Monday. Families who need medication or other critical items may pick them up during regular school hours.Teachers are preparing instructional material for students to continue their school work from home. Additional information on these plans will be available soon. During the COVID-19 school closures, IEP/504 meetings will be suspended while we seek additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

To ensure the students of Cherokee County schools continue to receive healthy and nutritious meals during the time schools are closed in response to COVID-19, Cherokee County Schools will be providing breakfasts and lunches free of charge to anyone 18 and younger at district locations Monday through Friday. This program will begin Monday, March 16.

Meals will be prepared in our school facilities by trained Food and Nutrition Services Staff. All existing DHEC and FDA approved procedures for meal prep, storage, service, and sanitation will be observed.