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Learning about the coronavirus, what you can do

Despite the onslaught of news about the coronavirus COVID-19, there are still questions to be answered.

There is terminology that has become familiar such as pandemic, epidemic, isolation and quarantine.

Pandemic means the virus has been found in countries and continents worldwide, while an epidemic as a rise in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in a geographical area, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A virus becomes an epidemic when there are more cases showing up than “normal” in a population.

Isolation is used to separate an ill person with a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Hospitals restrict visitors and employ isolation for patients with communicable diseases.

On the other hand, quarantine is used to separate those who are well but may have been exposed to a communicable disease. They are separated to see if they will become infected.

The virus has affected people in many ways. California State University, Bakersfield student and substitute teacher Orquidea Ocampo, a Wasco community leader, said, “It has affected me as a student because I have to complete student teaching hours. If they don’t reopen in April, my semester will be rolled over to the fall semester, which means it will take me longer to finish the credential program.”

Ocampo said that she will miss her students.

The City Council held a special meeting Tuesday and, instead of the regular agenda, the city discussed emergency preparedness for the COVID-19 situation.

Wasco High School Superintendent Lori Albrecht emailed a notice to all staff informing them of closure effective Wednesday, March 18. School will resume no earlier than April 14.

Staff attended a meeting on Monday to answer questions and discuss how the school can continue to provide services to students.

“This is a worldwide concern that we should all take with serious caution,” said Palm Avenue Principal Oscar Luna.

“We are all going online,” WHS agriculture teacher Anthony Farao said. “There are meals available each day for pickup.”

“The Wasco Union Elementary School District is following the direction of local health department officials and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools by closing all facilities in the district until the COVID-19 (coronavirus) health emergency has passed,” Superintendent Kelly Richers said in an email. “While schools are closed, district support teams will be working diligently to clean and disinfect school district facilities in preparation for your child’s return to school.”

Richers added that student independent study packets went home with students on March 17.

“We are going to close all school sites until April 14,” said Danny Arellano, principal atThomas Jefferson. Students received schoolwork for the 13 days schools are closed. In addition, the district's food service will be providing students a free breakfast and lunch program.

All students will be able to pick up a breakfast and lunch at the Palm Avenue Middle School cafeteria Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In addition, at least one administrator and school counselor will be available at the school site to provide any family and/or student support during the closure and crisis. The district will keep parents updated regarding school closures via phone or text. Information will also be posted at

Outside of education, grocery stores are experiencing their own dilemmas. This was evident at Walmart on Monday evening when the only water to be found in the store was in single bottles in the small refrigerators next to checkout stands.

The Bakersfield Californian reported on Tuesday morning that a nonresident tested positive for the coronavirus while visiting Kern County.

Below are some recommended procedures everyone should practice:

--Wash hands with soap and water often.

--Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Follow package instructions for proper disinfecting.

--Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.

--Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.

--Avoid contact with people who are sick.

--Stay away from work, school and other people if you become sick.

In addition, the WUESD put the following tips for supporting children during the coronavirus crisis on its website:

--Encourage open discussion and explain what is happening in kid-friendly terms.

--Emphasize that coronavirus is less common in children than adults and often only results in mild cold symptoms.

--Listen to and acknowledge their worries. Remind them that you are doing whatever you can to keep them safe and healthy.

--Remember that they watch you and your reaction to crisis. Your behaviors and feelings mold and form their behaviors and feelings.

--Maintain a structure and routine at home.

--Teach healthy coping strategies such as breathing techniques, grounding, journaling and drawing.

--View the extra time at home as a gift to spend quality family time.

--Avoid watching the news in front of them.

--Read with your child and access free educational resources.


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