B-A continuous moves to avoid, prepare for corona


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The Bellwood-Antis School District continues to update and improve its coronoavirus preparedness plan.

Malia Danish, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, the Bellwood-Antis School District sent a letter home to families discussing the COVID-19 (coronavirus), which was updated Thursday as events surrounding the pandemic continued to develop.

The letters give parents and guardians an idea on what the virus is and how it spreads and outlines the District’s plan of action as the illness spreads across the United States. They also states that BASD is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Blair County Emergency Management.

The letter reiterated the PA Department of Health’s suggestions for preventing the spread of the illness:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow; do not use hands
  • Clean surfaces frequently, like counter tops and cell phones
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay at home

The updated letter informs parents of cancellations due to the virus. The PIAA announced a 2-week hiatus from its state tournament, which means the Lady Devils will not be playing their game tomorrow. The district has also required that all field trips for March be cancelled or postponed.

The University of Pittsburgh, which sponsors the CHS argument program at B-A, cancelled its annual argument forum in May. B-A’s Xscape Xtravaganza, scheduled for March 20, has been cancelled as well.

The BluePrint staff was the first B-A organization affected by the virus.The PSPA student news writing state contest was scheduled to take place at Penns State’s University Park campus on March 25. However, on Monday coordinator Paul Fantaski notified qualifiers that the contest had been cancelled by its organizers as a safety precaution. B-A senior sports writer Troy Walker was scheduled to compete at the event.

The custodial staff is following a detailed protocol to ensure that surfaces are disinfected every evening.

On March 10, the Bellwood-Antis High School staff addressed coronavirus at a faculty meeting.  The current plan that has been discussed so far is to clean desks frequently with Clorox wipes, reinforce importance of hand washing, and to possibly use FID days, for which the District was approved in September, if closures are necessary.

When comparing the coronavirus and the seasonal flu, the coronavirus seems to be more deadly than the flu from what we know.  On average, the flu kills about 0.1 percent of people who have become infected. The current fatality rate for people infected with the coronavirus was 3.4 percent, which is a much higher rate than the flu. The coronavirus is the most threatening to the elderly and people with respiratory problems.  

Currently in Pennsylvania, it has been confirmed that there are 21 cases of coronavirus, but only two are confirmed.  COVID-19 has not yet made it to Blair County; however, schools in the county are still preparing for when or if the virus does come. 

In nearby Centre County, the State College Area School District is closing next week due to safety precautions for the virus.  SCSD follows Penn State’s spring break; and since many of the school’s families traveled the district will going to temporarily close  to ensure the virus does not get there. 

Dr. McInroy contacted B-A staff soon after SCSD made the announcement to notify them of the district’s special circumstances and that they do not currently apply to Bellwood-Antis or any other nearby schools at this time.  

Thomas Kovac, the Director of Facilities, has made a plan to prepare for preventing coronavirus with everyday measures.  Among other things his custodial staff will disinfect all desks nightly.

Kovac stressed that student hand hygiene is extremely important in this certain case. He reminded school staff that soap and water for 20 seconds is the absolute most effective way to prevent the spread on most illnesses.

The best that students can do is cover an coughs or sneezes with the elbow, clean surfaces frequently, and wash their hands often with soap and water fro at least 20 seconds.  If a student is sick, they should stay home until they are feeling better.  Since this spreads the same as the seasonal flu does, it is very important to take these precautions.