Cuyahoga County Board of Health working with districts on back-to-school plans

Oversight but not policy the board's role

Cuyahoga County Board of Health working with districts on back-to-school plans
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health works hand-in-hand with local school districts to keep kids safe from coronavirus as they return to the classroom (Source: Vic Gideon)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - For schools opening their doors in a month with children returning to the classroom, it’ll be as much about safety and health as education.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health works hand-in-hand with local school districts to help to develop classroom safety protocols and to oversee those plans while stopping short of making policy, and they’re ready to help if there’s an outbreak.

“If we would see a cluster of illness, the Board of Health would help the school make a determination on a best practice,” says Suzanna Hrusch, the School Environment Manager for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. “For example, we have so many kids out sick, if the potential for spread is so great within the community, we’re better off closing the school, for example. But we would do that with them. We don’t operate in a vacuum. We would work as advisors to them.”

Cuyahoga County Board of Health working with districts on back-to-school plans

The Board of Health will continue to do its twice-a-year inspections of schools in the fall and spring but, this year, they will focus on coronavirus.

Hrusch stressed keeping kids safe from the spread of coronavirus starts at home, urging parents to do wellness checks and take temperatures before kids leave the house, monitor who they’re around to help with contact tracing in the event of a positive test, and keeping children’s hands clean, particularly difficult with younger kids.

“That’s the 64-thousand dollar question, keeping kids clean,” said Hrusch. “They want to put their hands everywhere, they’re so inquisitive, they want to touch everything. So making it part of the routine day. There’s certain things we did every day in school back when I was in school, (like) ‘The Pledge of Allegiance.' It may be as they walk in, the teacher squirts a little bit of hand sanitizer in their hand.”

But Hrusch said the Board of Health is optimistic as long as people follow the plan.

“If sanitation and hygiene is done well, then we’re comfortable with it,” she said. " If it isn’t, we will see clusters of illness. We will see community spread and it could be rampant if people aren’t diligent with what they do.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health was founded 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

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