Great Oaks, Kuumba charter schools closed through Friday amid coronavirus concerns
Two Wilmington charter schools are closed through the end of the week and will undergo "deep cleaning" after a staff member who recently returned from Asia came down with flu-like symptoms.
Kuumba Academy and Great Oaks Charter School, which share a building on French Street, announced the closure Tuesday evening on social media and in an email to parents. The schools will reopen Monday.
In the email, Kuumba School Board President Joan Coker said officials decided to close despite the Delaware Division of Public Health's recommendation to continue with school until the staff member has a "firm diagnosis" for his illness.
Coker said officials made the decision to "err on the side of caution."
According to the email, a staff member — it's not clear if he's a teacher or if he has another role at the schools — within the Community Education Building recently traveled to Thailand and had a layover in South Korea, one of four countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled a warning level 3 country.
He returned to work when he arrived home from Asia, and was last at the Community Education Building on Friday. Coker said board members learned on Tuesday that he has symptoms "consistent with the possible flu and fever."
"No confirmed diagnosis had been rendered at this time; therefore, the recommendation from the Division of Public Health is to continue with school until a firm diagnosis has been rendered," Coker wrote. "However, after careful consideration of the recommendation, we have decided to err on the side of caution."
Coker said the Community Education Building will be deep-cleaned before Monday, when students, staff and families will be allowed to return.
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There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Delaware, and state officials have told school districts that as of yet, there is no need to make immediate decisions about reducing class sizes or school closures.
“None of us want to panic or overreact,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health. “But on the other hand, we all want to do what it takes to protect our students and our communities.”
Last week, Division of Public Health officials met with district superintendents to address concerns and go over best practices for infection control plans, and how to best disinfect a school if someone who has come in contact with the virus has been inside, Rattay said.
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Infection control plans range from simple things, like ensuring a building has enough warm water, soap and sanitizer on hand, to more complex decisions, like establishing the appropriate threshold for school closure.
Coker said school officials will provide updated information "as soon as we can" about the coronavirus impact.
Education reporter Natalia Alamdari contributed to this report.
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