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Monday, March 9, 2020

Plainfield schools prepare for Coronavirus -- and possible shutdown

The CDC test kits are in short supply as the Trump
administration tries to get its act together.

While in the chair at the barber's on Saturday afternoon, a Latino man and his two young sons took seats and waited for me to be finished.

The man and my barber, Oscar, chatted in Spanish while the boys were squirmy. But soon I heard the older boy -- he looked to be maybe 5th grade, 6th at most -- telling his father about the coronavirus and that the schools were getting prepared for its arrival.

He recited in detail all the cleanliness tips that are becoming ubiquitous -- don't touch your face, wash hands for 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and use hand sanitizer. Pretty amazing, I thought. Clearly he had been paying close attention. His delivery was matter-of-fact and he did not seem to be upset, just reciting a new regimen that we all must follow.

Then he told of the school's preparation for lessons to be continued at home, so that no days will be lost. He knew that the state required 180 days of instruction for the school year.

His little talk paralleled closely the letter released by Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell this past Tuesday (March 3) and posted on the District's website here.

I thought this all remarkable and if his fellow classmates are taking the crisis as seriously as this young man, we will be in good shape when the time comes.

The media were full over the weekend with updates on the (growing) numbers of cases in New Jersey, plus efforts by the State Education and Health Departments to mobilize schools statewide for possibly having to shut down if things get critical (see more here).

The call lies with the local Health Officer, Dr. Atif Nazir, and/or the state agencies.

Presumably, if we reach the point where the schools are closed, there will be other constraints on Plainfield residents --

  • canceling of sporting events and other large public gatherings;

  • voluntary quarantining of those who have been exposed to the virus, and

  • possible restrictions on the mobility of residents.
Then there is the matter of disruption to workplaces by the kids being home and someone having to care for them.

This all could have a serious impact on economies from local to national.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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