Himsel, NACS brace for possible COVID-19 outbreak


Kayleigh Lambert

Nurse Ann Kline demonstrates the proper way wash your hands. She recommended getting under your nails and scrubbing all the nooks and crannies in your hands. Wash for 20 seconds or about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.”

The NACS community has not felt the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, but that does not mean the district, along with county health officials, are not prepared for when it happens. 

Graphic by Julia Hess

Cleaning schedules in every school building have doubled and students are being encouraged to wash their hands regularly. 

“Soap and water, soap and water, soap and water,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Himsel when he dropped by the Charger Online classroom on March 5. 

Dr. Himsel, after attending a pandemic meeting with the Allen County Health Department (ACHD), said that much like the common cold, everyone will eventually be exposed to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

Indiana has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the ACHD. 

Because of this, the school district has implemented precautionary measures to help limit the number of outbreaks should the virus reach the NACS community. The custodians are doing extra cleaning in the evening hours and every classroom is to be stocked with hand sanitizer. 

Dr. Himsel stressed the importance of handwashing, encouraging students at the middle and high school levels to wash their hands between every period and instructing elementary teachers to increase restroom breaks to five to seven times a day to allow students additional opportunities to do so. 

School Nurse Ann Kline reaffirms Dr. Himsel’s advice on handwashing but did not recommend getting a facemask.  

“The virus will just go through the mask,” said Nurse Kline. 

Signs reminding students to wash their hands will be put up in all school bathrooms recommending washing hands for 20 seconds, she said. 

Other precautions being discussed are school closings and whether E-learning would be implemented if a closing occurs along with possibly granting waivers for days missed because of a medical emergency. 

“As of right now, one of the ways to stop and treat the virus is to not be around people,” said Dr. Himsel. 

With spring break and family holidays approaching, the coronavirus’s effect on the school year is still being discussed at the state level, said Dr. Himsel. 

 “Your family is going to have to have a serious conversation about what they are going to do about Spring Break,” said Dr. Himsel. 

The superintendent stressed the district was heeding the advice of the county health department who held a Pandemic Preparedness Advisory Committee meeting at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum on March 3 to discuss a plan of action for the area. Dr. Himsel said he remains in contact with the state officials in Indianapolis. One concern he has is feeding 1500 NACS students who rely on free and reduced meals if the school district would close. 

“We are reliant on the health care professionals to help us,” said Dr. Himsel. “We are talking to people who actually live this every day to get the advice.”