Indio High School and Della Lindley Elementary in Thousand Palms have extended their closures due to swine flu to two weeks following a government recommendation made Friday.
The two Coachella Valley schools, along with two others in Corona and Riverside, closed this past week after a student at each school were diagnosed with a “probable” case of the virus.
In all, the Education Department says more than 400 schools have closed in 17 states, leaving 245,000 students at home. The government is recommending the 14-day closures because children can be contagious for up to 10 days from when they are infected.
This means Indio High’s reopening date will change from May 7 toMay 14. Della Lindley Elementary will reopen on May 15.
Both schools will use the closure to thoroughly cleanse and disinfect the campus. Administrators at Indio High School urged students to stay home and not mix with other students outside of school during the closure, hoping to keep down the exposure rate to the virus.
Even though the number of closures represents a tiny fraction of the nation’s schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is urging parents, students and teachers to be prepared in case of a shutdown.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are more than 140 confirmed cases in 19 states and that the virus still appears to be spreading.
Meanwhile, cleaning is underway attwo local schools,temporarily closed down due to possible cases of the swine flu. Indio High School and Della Lindley Elementary are both closed.
“We are hitting every nook and cranny,” says Joel Parks, Desert Sands Unified School District’s custodial supervisor.
Cleaning crews use dozens of spray bottles filled a disinfectant similar to Lysol.
“This is a preventative measure to make sure everything is clean,” says Roy Hill, Palm Springs Unified School District’s Emergency Preparedness Manager.
Wearing protective gear, crews this week doused walls, desks, bathrooms, the cafeteria, and library. The cleaning is similar to the routine cleaning done every year, but this is more thorough. The goggles and gloves are also standard, but the masks are an added precaution.
The crews use an organized cleaning system with four stages. First, they disinfectthen deep clean all surfaces. Next is another round of disinfectant and, finally, they vacuum and mop. Procedures like this are part of each schools district’s emergency plan, which they continuously work on.
It’s rare that these plans are put in place, but, when they are, districts learn and adapt.
“Every emergency we look at it, we take the lessons we learned and the next time is better,” says Hill.
Parents and students can also learn from this, as they’re reminded of little lessons that make a big difference
“Everyone needs to cover their sneeze, cover their cough, andwash their hands,” says Hill.