Portland school district: Fears of coronavirus leading to anti-Asian discrimination
In the midst of the state's first known cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Portland school district officials said they've received reports of Asian students experiencing discrimination.
"We are aware of reports that some of our Asian students were targeted and discriminated against in connection to the coronavirus," a message from Portland Public Schools states. "This is unacceptable and contrary to our values of racial equity and social justice. Fear of the outbreak has fueled xenophobic remarks and behaviors in the weeks since the first case of coronavirus. It is important to distinguish medical precautions from racist and discriminatory behaviors."
That message was part of a message to families posted over the weekend about "preventative precautions" the district is taking in light of the COVID-19 cases.
In the message, the district noted schools and buses would be cleaned more frequently to try to prevent the spread of viruses.
"School custodial crews will focus on and increase the frequency of disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, desks and sinks, as part of increased and enhanced daily cleaning practices," the message stated. "When needed, PPS has relationships with several outside firms to assist with deep-cleaning efforts, and in any case where there is an apparent contagious virus present, we will follow cleaning and disinfection protocols from Multnomah County and the Centers for Disease Control."
The school district advised students to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and stay home if they experience any type of cold or flu symptoms.
The message came less than 24 hours after Oregon reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19 Friday evening, Feb. 28. Health officials said the infected person lives in Washington County and works at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego.
Since then, a person in the same household as the school employee also has tested positive, while a third presumptive positive case was announced Monday; that person lives in Umatilla County and was hospitalized in Walla Walla, Wash.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Tips:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Stay home when you are sick
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be worn by people who show symptoms of the virus, to prevent the spread to others
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