SHELTON — The increasing focus on the coronavirus has officials stepping up sterilization efforts in the schools and planning assemblies to educate students on safety protocols, said interim Superintendent Beth Smith.

The district’s Health Emergency Planning Committee met on Wednesday to discuss steps needed to protect students and parents while planning for the potential of a community outbreak. Deaths from the virus nationally stands at 11 and several states have declared states of emergency. There have been no deaths or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut as of Thursday.

Smith said the district has already begun to take preventative steps to address the coronavirus.

“One hundred alcohol-based hand sanitizing stations were installed in schools throughout the district last week,” said Smith. “Porcelain surfaces are being wiped down nightly. Quaternary disinfectant cleaner is being used.

“Shelton public schools are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our students and staff,” added Smith.

Smith said devices that spray a bleach-based chemical fine mist which cleans on contact also are being used.

“Nurses are monitoring student absences and notifying the custodial staff if additional cleaning is needed,” said Smith, adding that the district is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding travel abroad.

Smith said that the district’s other main focus will be educating students on prevention. All schools will be holding an assembly or advisory period next week to address “general hygiene and self-care, with a focus on preventative measures, including reinforcing proper hand washing and basic hygiene.

“Reminders will also include giving elbow bumps instead of high fives, handshakes and fist bumps. Fears and anxieties students may have about the epidemic will be addressed,” added Smith.

Parents are reminded to keep children home if they do not feel well. A child must be fever free for 24 hours or more before returning to school. Parents will be asked to provide the reason for a child’s absence because of illness to enable the school and district to track illnesses. Students absent for more than five days need a medical note upon return to school.

“The district protocol for dealing with students who exhibit symptoms will include being quarantined in the nurse’s office until they are sent home,” said Smith. “Students must be picked up by parents or someone on their emergency list. After the student has been picked up, the nurse will contact the custodian to clean the area.”

The Health Emergency Planning Committee is comprised of central office and building level administration, led by school nurse supervisor Adrianna Collins and including city Public Safety Director Mike Maglione, school Technology Director Daniel Divito, school security head Ben Trapka, school facilities director John Calhoun and EMS representative Joe Laucella.

Smith said the committee will be meeting again after the school assemblies are held.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com