Tuesday, September 8, 2009

District H1N1 Flu Preparedness Plan in Place

Prevention is Key to Students, Staff Staying Healthy

While families were enjoying the final days of summer vacation, San Diego Unified School District officials were working closely with San Diego County Public Health Services officials to develop a plan designed to prevent and reduce the spread of the H1N1 flu virus. As nearly 135,000 students returned to school today, parents should feel assured that the district is well-prepared to deal with the potential increase in flu cases. The district and county are doing everything possible to keep schools open while protecting the health and safety of students, staff and the community.

Following the guidelines established by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every school site has been provided with instructions on managing students and staff with flu-like symptoms. Preparations include identifying a room where students who develop flu symptoms at school can be isolated until they are picked up. Students who come to school with flu-like symptoms will be sent home.

In most cases, students age 5 years and older will be able to return to school when fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin.

School sites are well-stocked with face masks for staff members caring for children with flu symptoms and for ill students, as appropriate. School sites have received additional rations of hand sanitizer that supplement supplies of soap and hand sanitizers already on campuses.

Prevention is key to reducing the spread of all flu viruses. Parents have or will receive a letter from their child's school informing them of the steps they can take to help with district prevention efforts, including:
  • Know the symptoms of the H1N1 influenza virus infection, which are fever of 100° F or higher with cough. Other symptoms may include sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting.

  • Children and adults who have these flu-like symptoms should stay home from school or work.

  • Practice good hand hygiene-wash hands properly and often. Use a hand-sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  • Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough/sneeze into a sleeve or inner elbow.

  • Check with your health care provider about getting yourself and your children vaccinated now for seasonal (regular) flu and H1N1 flu when vaccine is available. (The district is currently working with County Health Services to designate our schools as sites for H1N1 flu vaccinations, which would be administered by Public Health Nurses from the County Health and Human Services Department.)
It is anticipated that details may change as we move into the traditional flu season. The district will continue to stay in close communications with County Public Health and make decisions that are in the best interest of our school communities.

To make sure staff and families have access to the most up-to-date information, the district has established an H1N1 Flu website at www.sandi.net . The website includes the Instructions to Schools document as well as links to the San Diego County and CDC flu websites. Parent and staff can also e-mail questions to H1N1@sandi.net. An H1N1 telephone information line will be activated this week.