Feb 28, 2020 - Health

U.S. schools prepare for coronavirus spread

Vice President Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar tour virus operations center

Vice President Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar (left) tour virus operations center yesterday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Schools across the U.S. are canceling trips abroad, preparing online lessons and even rethinking "perfect attendance" awards as they brace for the possibility that the coronavirus spreads to their communities, AP's Collin Binkley reports.

Why it matters: If schools are forced to close for long stretches, it could have a heavy impact on students who rely on school meals and for parents who use their schools' child care programs.

Cleaning crews have been told to pay extra attention to doorknobs, keyboards and other surfaces that students touch through the day.

  • Some districts have invested in handheld disinfectant sprayers that are used in hospitals.
  • Others are adding hand sanitizers in schools and buses.

Officials are considering how they would handle large numbers of absences among students or teachers, and how to make up days that could be missed because of the virus.

  • In Miami, public school leaders said they're readying 200,000 laptops and tablets for students in case buildings close and force classes online.

The National School Boards Association is asking districts to reconsider attendance awards to students who don't miss a day of class for an entire year or semester.

  • Some schools have previously abandoned the practice amid fears that it encourages students to come to school sick, but some still award gift cards, cash or raffle prizes to students with perfect attendance.

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