The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

On Wednesday, March 12, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office in regards to the COVID-19. Trump announced a travel ban on all travel to Europe for 30 days, with Great Britain being an exception. 

The virus was first diagnosed on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China. On March 11, the United States now has 1,267 confirmed cases with 9 of them being in Virginia. CNN reports that out of these 1,267 cases, 38 have passed away. Prince George is starting to take precautions. Several student trips have been canceled: the VSCA convention, the college tour field trip, and the Key Club Conference. More trips and possibly athletic events could be affected. 

“We want to take these steps and be cautious, but not get overwhelmed and panic and do things irrationally,” Principal Mike Nelson said. “We always want to look at things reasonably. We want to take our time and understand things and make decisions that are of the best interest of everyone. If there are any decisions that come about from the school division, we will let you know as soon as we can and the steps that need to be taken.”

With the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and the NCAA now suspending the season and/or playoffs, schools in our local area are now putting things into place to attack this issue. 

According to Colonial Heights Public Schools website, “Monday, March 16, 2020 has been added to the school calendar as a staff development day and student holiday.  All after-school activities will go on as scheduled on March 16th. This will allow our schools to prepare for the possibility of distance learning in the event of a school(s) closure.  In addition, it will provide our maintenance team with an opportunity to do an extended deep cleaning in all our school buildings. Currently, there are no reported cases of coronavirus in the City of Colonial Heights.” 

Currently nine state colleges have cancelled classes for the future, or extended spring break by a week. These schools consist of William & Mary, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, Radford University, Longwood, Norfolk State, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University have asked students to leave campus. Longwood has recently announced that a student has tested positive for COVID-19. 

In order to take precaution, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff sent out an email warning students to be cautious and informing them of the best way to stay virus free.

“Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Likewise, people who are sick should stay home from work or school and avoid other people until they are symptom free.Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended,” Pennycuff said. “If soap and water are not available, please use alcohol-based hand sanitizer until hands can be washed. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth without washing your hands first. Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, throw away the tissue and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cough into your elbow area. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Allow the surface to remain wet for the amount of time listed on the cleaning product, and let the surface air dry before touching it again. If an outbreak of an illness occurs, follow public health advice which may include social distancing and other related measures. If you have traveled or feel you may have been exposed or having symptoms of this virus, please contact your physician or the Prince George Health Department at (804) 733-2630.”

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