Jacksonville School District 117 is working to quash fears through several schools, that likely started from nothing more, than a playground rumor.
District Superintendent Steve Ptacek sent communications to district parents today, in an effort to ease concerns about a rumor that there has been a case of the coronavirus at one of the schools in the district.
Ptacek says that a recent event was the probable cause of the fears, addressing in the email that “someone associated with a school recently traveled and has been ill.” Ptacek says that although the initial indications seemed to rule out it being a case of coronavirus, the district still took the matter seriously and followed the proper protocols.
“The symptoms were very similar to symptoms you would see listed with the coronavirus, but those symptoms happen to be the same symptoms you would see with the common flu, And knowing that if it were to be the coronavirus we would need to have a public awareness campaign, and we would have to know from the Illinois Department of Public Health ow to handle that, we did our due diligence and contacted the Morgan County Health Department and they contacted the Illinois Department of Public Health.
They looked at the symptoms and the the specific travel locations where they went, and the department’s specific words were, they are not a person of interest for the coronavirus. They basically said that there was not even an exclusion from school or anything. They told us no, we have no concern of this being the coronavirus.”
Ptacek says that he can see how the concern over the issue can lead to rumors, but he is asking the public to “please do not spread information that can cause panic without having the actual and true facts.”
“I also think it is a good instructional moment that stresses the point that, even if it’s not about the coronavirus, if it is about threats or about something else concerning, don’t be a part of the rumor mill spreading of the rumors if you do not have actual knowledge, and that applies to many situations, not just this one.”
Ptacek says that he does want parents and students to feel they can come to him or his staff with any concerns they may have, and would rather a parent message him about a rumor they heard, than to continue to spread the rumor on.
Ptacek says that the school district is not expecting an outbreak of the coronavirus in District 117 schools, but regardless they are prepared should any kind of heath issue become a problem in our area.
“We know our first protocol is to follow the directives of the Illinois Department of Public Health and I know that they have a sequence of protocols. So I can’t say that we have those right now in hand, but we are ready to give them a call and they will tell us what to do immediately. Because the exact same thing happened when we had both the measles and the mumps scares within the last six years.”
Ptacek said that he personally wanted to thank Dale Bainter and the staff of the Morgan County Department of Health for being a wonderful partner with the district to help get to the answers they need on any heath related issues.
Again, District 117, does not have a case of the coronavirus in one if it’s schools, and if rumors of this nature or any other issue that a parent finds concerning, they are asked to contact the district as soon as possible.