HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County Schools announced early Thursday morning that Farnell Middle School is closing for two days after a man at the school came into contact with a coronavirus patient.
The man is self-isolating and is not showing symptoms at this time, according to Addison Davis, Incoming Hillsborough Superintendent.
It's unclear if the man is a teacher but Davis said he is someone who has had "continuous contact at our schools."
According to Davis, the interaction between the man and the coronavirus patient happened over the last six days out of Hillsborough County. The coronavirus patient is not located in the county, Davis said.
Davis said the middle school would be deep cleaned over the 48 hours and possibly into spring break. He said a cleaning vendor has been on standby for weeks just in case.
"They will come in and do a light, thermal fog within every one of our classrooms, every one of our offices, every one of our common areas," Davis said.
Thursday morning the school district said the air conditioning was shut down. There will be a 24 hour waiting period for particles in the air to settle before the hot thremal fog is used to pull anything down cleaning crews can't reach. Crews will then go room by room wiping down all surfaces with CDC-recommended chemicals. They will wait 24 hours after the last room is wiped down with the AC shut off before anyone returns.
More than a dozen school buses are also in the process of being deep cleaned. Security officers were seen checking buses in on school property on Thursday morning.
The district said 21 buses that service Farnell Middle School and Bryant Elementary school next door are being steamed, cleaned and dried to eliminate bacteria by trained technicians. The buses are regularly deep cleaned
Messages were sent to parents early Thursday morning.
"When I was on the bus the bus driver came in I got on the bus and I looked back like I usually do and I saw no one literally absolutely no one," said student Lucas Medero.
He said he was picked up by bus and brought to the school.
The district said they were prepared to pick up students in case parents had not received the message and drivers continued their route this morning. They said they did not want any to be left at a bus stop who may have been unaware of the closure. Two students showed up at the bus stops, were taken to the school and kept in the cafeteria until parents picked them up. The district said the cafeteria was cleaned prior to students arriving.
"You have to stay calm when things like this happen and be diligent make sure that you’re protecting your family and watch your hands sneeze into your arms," said parent Jen Older. "I’m glad the school is taking precautions to keep the children safe is really really important."
Farnell Middle School in Hillsborough is now closed because someone here was exposed to #coronavirus. Now the school and all of the school buses are being deep cleaned. You can see security officers checking them in now. @abcactionnews #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/Utbe7PVrhn— Lauren Rozyla-Wong (@LaurenRozyla) March 12, 2020
Davis said parents had been notified through an email and a robocall.
"This decision is based on children," Davis said. "It is a precautionary measure."
The district is working with Spectrum, other agencies and stakeholders to create an eLearning plan if students have to stay home and need to learn virtually.
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