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As schools prepare for coronavirus, parents get advice on how to talk to their kids

How are schools preparing for coronavirus?
How are U.S. schools preparing for a coronavirus outbreak? 03:32

As coronavirus spreads, schools around the world have shut down. In the U.S., some schools in seven states have temporarily closed as a precaution and others are preparing in case there is an outbreak.

At a middle school in Little Falls, New Jersey, there's no panic, but there is concern.

"I'm like, I don't want to die," one student said. Another said she "would like to hear answers about how we can prevent it."

A third student was concerned about not knowing how quickly the virus spreads.

The school's psychologist, Sherri Glassman, said she tries to remind the students "that they're resilient, they're strong, that they're very capable of handling things that are challenging."

Glassman said parents have to be aware of their own anxiety when talking to their children about coronavirus.  

"Children pick up on that," she told CBS News' Meg Oliver. "They start to say, 'Wow, if my mother or father is doing this, then maybe there is something I should worry about.'"

Glassman said she would not have conversations about the virus with any child under six years old "unless they brought a concern to you."

The school's custodial staff is stepping up cleaning as a precaution, wiping down doorknobs, handlebars, railings and inside bathrooms, Superintendent Tracey Miranelli said.

"This time of year, we pick up, just because viruses, the flu are always more prevalent in the winter, so we'll go from one or two times a day to then two or three, and now we're up to four," she said.

Miranelli said she believes the school is "absolutely" prepared if there is an outbreak.

The coronavirus has forced several schools in the U.S. to close briefly, but in countries like Japan and Italy, schools are being closed for weeks.

In Little Falls, they're prepared to teach kids remotely if the schools are forced to shut down. Each student has technology to learn from home.

"If we had to, we could teach the remainder of the year remotely," Miranelli said.

Shuttered schools, however, disrupt families and can cause a ripple through the economy.

"First and foremost, somebody has to stay with the children, and so, it's probably going to be a parent," said Lakshman Achuthan, the co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. "Any household budget is going to feel that immediately, so discretionary spending, if it's not the roof over your head, if it's not the food, if it's not the medicine, everything else goes on hold."

School officials advise families to come up with a plan now in case schools shut down.

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