Feds Update H1N1 Flu Guidelines for Schools

Updated federal guidelines offer a range of options for responding to H1N1 influenza in schools

Updated federal guidelines offer state and local public health and school officials a range of options for responding to H1N1 influenza in schools, depending on the severity of the flu in their communities. The guidance issued earlier this month says officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption school dismissals will cause in education and the wider community.

The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a part of a broader national framework to respond to H1N1, which includes encouraging people to be vaccinated against the virus and to take other actions to avoid infection. The CDC anticipates more illness after the school year starts because flu typically is transmitted more easily in the fall and winter.

For an outbreak similar in severity to the H1N1 outbreak, the guidelines recommend basic hygiene practices, such as hand washing. Students or staff members with flu-like symptoms also should stay home at least 24 hours after fever symptoms have ended.

The guidelines also recommend schools have plans to deal with possible infection. For instance, school officials should send people with flu-like illness to a room away from other people until they can go home. Schools should have plans for continuing the education of students who are at home through phone calls, homework packets, Internet lessons and other approaches. Schools also should have contingency plans to fill important positions, such as school nurses.

If H1N1 causes higher rates of severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, school officials could add to or intensify their responses, the guidelines say.
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  posted on 8/17/2009   Article Use Policy

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