How Should Your District Be Responding to the Swine Flu
On April 30, 2009, ASBO International participated in a conference
call with the
U.S. Department of Education on the actions schools and districts
should take in response to H1N1 influenza or Swine Flu. Below are some
of the highlights from
todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call with links
to further information.
First, here are 5 things the Department of Education thought you should
1. Educators need to work closely with their local public health
2. Every district and school should have a crisis plan that includes
planning for a pandemic
3. There are numerous resources online (some of which are linked
4. The situation is fluid-- be flexible and ready to change what you are doing as new
information becomes available
5. No federal regulation should be an impediment to implementation of
your plan -- if it is, contact the
department of education.
Phase 5 Pandemic
Even though the World Health Organization has declared this a phase 5
pandemic, the level of staging designation refers to the way the disease
is spreading, not the severity of the illness. Data are still being
analyzed to determine lethality of this strain. If the H1N1 is
determined to be more lethal than currently thought, recommendations for
action will become more aggressive.
What is being recommended?
Based on the information currently available, the department is
recommending a reactive posture. While you should be reviewing your
plans and taking the necessary steps to prepare for further action, you
should otherwise be conducting business as usual in your districts until
you have a confirmed case of H1N1 in your community.
As of May 5, 2009, the CDC updated its guidance on school closure and is now
recommending that school closure decisions be made at the local level,
writing: "At this time, CDC recommends the primary means to reduce
spread of influenza in schools and child care programs focus on early
identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and
good cough and hand hygiene etiquette. Decisions about school and child
care program closure should be at the discretion of local authorities
based on local considerations, including public concern and the impact
of school or child care program absenteeism and staffing shortages." If you have a confirmed or probable case of H1N1, consider closing
the affected school for a period of at least one week. A probable case
would be a case that has not yet been confirmed, but can be directly
linked to a confirmed case. This reactive posture for closings is based
on current information and recognizes the ripple effect of school
closures on the community and other efforts at social
Hard Surface Cleaning
Despite news reports about efforts to disinfect schools and other public
spaces, the risk of transmission through surface contact is minimal. The
experts on this call recommended that school officials might get more
bang for their buck by conducting an education campaign on recognizing
the signs and symptoms, hand washing, and proper cough etiquette. H1N1
is transmitted more readily by human-to-human interaction such as close
conversation and coughing.
The use of masks in schools is not being recommended at this time. If
individuals become infected, first, they should make the effort to
remain isolated from the public. If infected individuals must go into
public areas, it is recommended that they wear masks.