By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Schools emphasize cleaning surfaces, washing hands

Area schools are wiping down doorknobs, keyboards and other surfaces amid efforts to control the spread of the viruses that cause COVID-19, the flu and other illnesses.

They are urging students, staff and others to do so also.

“Respond to this potential community threat with purpose and not fear,” wrote Charan Cline, superintendent of the Yamhill Carlton School District, in a letter sent to parents over the weekend.

Y-C, McMinnville and other school districts are working closely with the county health department and county emergency planning personnel.

In McMinnville, Superintendent Maryalice Russell said custodial staff members are doing extra cleaning because of concerns about the spread of disease -- primarily the flu, but also to be ready in case of COVID-19.

“Routinely we increase our cleaning of frequently touched areas in our schools during flu season. With hundreds of children in our schools each day, and because of the new virus, it is particularly important that we take the time to remind each other of the added protection that hygiene practices such as those recommended by the Center for Disease Control be followed,” a post on the McMinnville district website said.

Sheridan Superintendent Steve Sugg said his district is reminding children and adults to stay home when they are ill.

Officials from Willamina, Sheridan, Amity and other districts also said they have increased cleaning and sanitizing.

“Our maintenance staff is diligent about cleaning and is communicating with staff to provide extra supplies to all staff, as well,” Willamina Superintendent Carrie Zimbrick said.

Amity Superintendent Jeff Clark said his district is “making sure custodians pay extra attention to sanitizing surfaces that are likely to be touched.”

In Y-C, Cline said custodians increased their cleaning again after news broke that the first Oregon patient worked at an elementary school in Lake Oswego.

The district has ordered disinfecting wipes, and teachers and students will use them to “wipe down their desks and other surfaces multiple times per day.”

McMinnville schools also put up posters to remind students about precautions, such as washing hands thoroughly and frequently, cleaning surfaces.

McMinnville administrators also are asking parents to review with their children how to stop the spread of germs. They suggest teaching children to wash not just the palms of their hands, but also scrub with soap between the fingers and over the thumbs and backs of hands, too.

The Newberg district’s website advises parents to keep children home if they are feeling ill. “Make sure any fever is below 100 degrees for 24 hours without medication before returning to school,” it says.

It also advises families to contact their school principal as well as their doctor if they recently have traveled to an infected country or think they may have been exposed to the virus.

No Oregon students have been diagnosed with the virus that causes COVID-19.

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