While Massachusetts school districts take steps aimed at preventing the spread of the new coronavirus, a lawmaker on the House budget-writing committee gave voice Friday to the possibility of the state stepping in to support those efforts.

During a hearing on the education components of Gov. Charlie Baker's $44.6 billion fiscal 2021 budget, House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Thomas Stanley asked state education officials if they anticipate a need for any additional funding associated with the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, or if the costs for schools to respond would "fall on the backs of the districts."

"I'm just thinking there may be a need to hire more people cleaning, and down the road, depending on how bad this gets, how many school districts are prepared to have the kids learn from home for a period of time, things like that," the Waltham Democrat said during the hearing at the Malden senior center.

As of Friday morning, there have been eight cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts -- one confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and seven others identified as "presumptive positive" cases while state officials await results from the CDC.

Earlier this week, Baker urged high schools and colleges to cancel any scheduled international trips in light of the global outbreak. Tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed internationally.

After a Wellesley resident, a parent of two children enrolled in the town's public schools, tested positive for the virus, district officials announced that they would close the two schools that those students attend -- Upham Elementary School and Wellesley Middle School -- early on Friday "in order to fully clean and sanitize both buildings." The district noted that the two children "are showing no symptoms and are healthy."

Plymouth also closed its public schools on Friday "for the purpose of thoroughly disinfecting all 12 schools and school buses," a move superintendent Gary Maestas said, in a message to parents, was made "out of an abundance of caution" and amid "unusual circumstances as the national picture continues to evolve."

Maestas wrote that the district has "contracted with a professional commercial cleaning service that specializes in this type of work."

In response to Stanley's question, Education Secretary James Peyser said he wasn't aware of any conversations at this point focused specifically around the of the virus' impact on school budgets.

Elementary and Secretary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said his department was "hearing that the federal government may be assigning dollars, of which the schools may be able to access to do some of this work if needed."

Riley left the budget hearing early for a planned call on virus response with school districts and other education officials. The education department has also issued guidance to schools.

"We're really trying to stay close to the field about best practices and how to meet this ever-evolving situation," Riley said.

Colleges and universities have also begun taking steps to respond to and prepare for COVID-19, including bringing home students studying abroad in certain countries.

Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago said he's been hearing from some colleges and universities, both public and private, that are incurring costs to bring students back into the U.S.

"And they're very concerned about the large events that they host, commencements coming up in May, and there's questions about should they go forward," he said.

Santiago said Department of Higher Education officials are trying to gather as much information as they can, and noted that, after Hurricane Katrina, a special fund was set up to help Massachusetts institutions that "picked up" students from Louisiana.

University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan said he's been talking to other university leaders from across the country to get a sense of how other campuses are handling the situation.

He said the UMass system has a "pretty robust online program" and is "looking at all options on the table to make sure we're able to graduate people and have them take their finals."

"None of us know where this is all going to go but what we do know is we need to be on top of best practices, we need to be communicating with people," Meehan said.