Coronavirus: San Jose Unified School District monitoring for virus symptoms

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Across the Bay Area, colleges and local schools are issuing the latest advisories from the CDC and county health officials about the novel coronavirus.

The South Bay's largest school district, San Jose Unified, is in a unique position with 48 nurses and health clerks. Monitoring symptoms is a top priority.

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The district has 26 school nurses plus almost that many health clerks with nurse training covering 41 schools. So they're on the alert for the flu and now for the novel coronavirus. Health offices are fully equipped to monitor just under 30,000 students.

14-year-old Cole Carrabino's temperature is normal, but the nurse does additional screening.

"Have you had any vomiting recently?" asks Valeria Gomez, a registered nurse. "No," responds Cole. "How about some diarrhea?" nurse Gomez then asks. Again, Cole answers, "no."

San Jose Unified and other South Bay school districts have been sending out alerts since the first confirmed case was announced last Friday. Included are common sense recommendations, such as frequent hand washing, from the CDC and county health officials.

Perhaps one of the most important steps the school district is taking is asking parents to be sure to provide feedback about their childrens' symptoms so they can stay ahead of any potential outbreak.

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"We want to know, are we seeing an unusual number of kids with fever? Are we seeing an unusual number of kids with respiratory? That really helps us track this and respond," said Melanie Landau, a registered nurse who manages the district's health and family support programs.

While health officers stress the public is at low risk, fear and suspicion of others can surface on crowded campuses. It's human nature, but people need to be aware of irrational behavior says assistant professor of psychology Matthew Capriotti at San Jose State.

"It's normal to have some thoughts about doing things that just don't make sense with the reality of right now," he said. "So really noticing those and then staying up to date with what the CDC and local health departments are recommending."

Cole, by the way, was scheduled to visit China next week with his family, but that trip has been cancelled. The result of his visit to the school health office is that's he's fine.

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