FALL RIVER — While the novel coronavirus hasn’t been detected in the city, Fall River Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Malone said the administration is taking precautions to keep students healthy while maintaining communication between faculty, staff and parents.

“We are prepared for any response we need to take,” Malone said.

With 10,240 students in the Fall River school system, preparedness is key.

Malone said the district has developed a protocol for communicating with parents, and has relayed proper hand-washing skills to students.

School nurses have created isolation areas in their offices if students come in sick.

Malone said high-touch points, such as doors and surfaces, are disinfected by maintenance and janitorial staff in each school daily, and additional cleaning has been enforced. Deep-cleaning equipment will be able to spray surfaces if an outbreak reaches city schools.

Another part of the job in this situation is “keeping people calm,” Malone said. He said he will provide as much information as possible to avoid panic and hysteria. Malone posted a notice on the schools’ website last week about coronavirus, and plans to post a new communication this week.

“I think a lot of people are scared,” Malone said.

Other local school districts, including Somerset, Swansea and Westport, have posted about coronavirus preparedness on their district websites.

No Fall River public school-sponsored trips internationally are scheduled this year, Malone explained. The next one planned is to Greece and Turkey, but in 2021.

Malone said the city has no exchange student programs currently. He also said he was not aware of any families of students who traveled out of the country during the winter break in February.

Overall, Malone said students have been healthy since winter break.

Prior to that vacation, the flu had hit the schools pretty hard during the last two months.

Malone said students should stay at home if they are sick.

Generally, when a student exceeds a certain number of absences in the school year, they have to make up the time. Malone said he will work with individual students and families if the coronavirus does hit the area so that students can make up any missed school work.

“If your kid is sick, keep them at home," the superintendent said. "We’ll work with you."

Malone said the administration has faced other health-related crises in the past, including coronaviruses that cause respiratory illnesses such as MERS and SARS, plus an encephalitis scare due to mosquitoes.

“Every year, we’ve got to get ready for something,” Malone said.

If there is a school closure due to the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Malone said the administration will follow state guidelines.

He said it will be difficult, however, to have students keep up with school work at home because there is no current infrastructure for virtual learning.

A new digital innovation program will begin next school year at the middle school level to connect students with their classrooms via the internet. Currently, Malone said there are students without internet or devices at home.

He said the new program will strive for “digital inclusion” for all students.

“Access to technology is really the gatekeeper,” Malone said.

Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was closed Monday and Tuesday this week for campus sanitation after students and faculty returned from a school-sponsored trip to Italy. Several other schools nationwide also shut down this week and others are considering online learning.

Malone, as part of a network of 280 school superintendents across the commonwealth, is updated regularly about the novel coronavirus by local and state health officials. He said a crisis team made up of 13 members of school faculty and staff meets weekly.

Malone is also receiving updates from the state Department of Public Health and other health officials.

“Right now, we’re monitoring the situation,” Malone said.

Public health leaders told senators Tuesday that although scientists are working toward a vaccine, one likely won't be available anytime soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated potential treatments may come before a vaccine. “The timelines are fundamentally different,” he said.

Fauci said a vaccine would take at least a year to a year-and-a-half.

Nine people in the United States have died after being infected with coronavirus, all in Washington state. There are at least 127 confirmed cases in the country, including two in Massachusetts and two in Rhode Island.

Pharmaceutical company Gilead is testing a potential treatment: “We’ll know in a few months if it works," Fauci said.

The World Health Organization recommends people stay safe by regularly washing their hands; staying at least three feet away from anyone coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth; covering the nose and mouth with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing; and seeking medical attention for fevers, coughs and difficulty breathing.

Information from USA Today was used in this report.