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Being Prepared: Government, Organizations Providing Resources to Manage COVID-19

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications & PR

DashBoard, March 4, 2020

While there have been no reported cases in our state, the likelihood is increasing that the current public health issue known as COVID-19 could impact Michiganders. To help with communications and management, a number of resources, including those specific to school districts, have been introduced by both the federal and state governments, as well as several organizations.

The materials cover signs/symptoms of the illness, precautions to take for prevention and management, overview of school building closure procedures, communication best practices and more. All note that it is important to coordinate with your local health department since this is a public health issue.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been closely monitoring the situation and activated the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center in early February. This center supports the local and state response to the outbreak. The MDHHS website is where you can find the latest information about how many people in Michigan have been tested for the virus, along with fact sheets and frequently asked questions.

The Michigan Department of Education and MDHHS issued a joint statement providing updated guidance specifically for schools.

A number of other steps have been taken at the state level, including the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which provides a central location for federal, state and local agencies to coordinate statewide readiness and communication related to COVID-19. She has also established task forces on state operations, health and human services, education and the economy/workforce.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for administrators at K-12 schools for planning, preparing and responding to COVID-19. The website will be continually updated as more information becomes available.

The National School Boards Association partnered with the National Association of School Nurses to develop "COVID-19: Preparing For Widespread Illness in Your School Community: A Legal Guide for School Leaders." As school board members, work with your district administration to ensure that your school safety plans and policies address how you would respond to pandemic disease, including items like cleaning procedures, school closings, vulnerable students and employees, and compliance with federal, state and local health protocols. The NSBA website also has a listing of resources that is being updated regularly.

Just yesterday, the Michigan School Public Relations Association released a Toolkit for Communicating About Coronavirus Disease 2019. It has sample letters, social media posts, media statements and other resources from districts that have already been sending out information.

MASB will continue to keep you up-to-date on this issue and others impacting public education in Michigan. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

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