CDE PRESS RELEASE
●●smf’s 2¢: Guideline bullet #4 is: Maintain routine cleaning. That’s not the plan in LAUSD as custodial staff has been eliminated. Routine every day classroom cleaning has been cut to once a week.
August 7, 2009
Contact: Tina Jung
State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Urges Schools to Review Updated Federal Guidelines to Prevent Spread of Influenza Virus
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today encouraged local educational agencies to review and share with their local communities newly released federal guidelines on how to prevent and mitigate the spread of the H1N1 and other influenza viruses.
"As we enter the start of the traditional school year, the potential threat of spreading H1N1 increases," O'Connell said. "These updated recommendations complement what we have been saying for years. If each of us remains vigilant and takes common sense steps to prevent the spread of flu, then all of us will stay healthy and kids will stay in school ready to learn. It is important that all school staff, parents, and students become familiar with the updated guidance on flu prevention released today by the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
The new federal guidance can be found at CDC Guidance for State and Local Public Health Officials and School Administrators for School (K-12) Responses to Influenza during the 2009-2010 School Year [http://www.flu.gov/plan/school/schoolguidance.html] (Outside Source) . If the level of severity of the H1N1 virus remains similar to the conditions seen in the United States last spring, the following key guidelines are recommended school responses for the 2009-10 school year:
- Students and staff should stay home when sick: Those with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. They should stay home even if they are using antiviral drugs. (For more information, visit CDC H1N1 Flu | CDC Recommendations for the Amount of Time Persons with Influenza-Like Illness Should be Away from Others [http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exclusion.htm] (Outside Source).)
- Separate ill students and staff: Students and staff who appear to have flu-like illness should be sent to a room separate from others until they can be sent home. The guidelines recommend that they wear a surgical mask, if possible, and that those who care for ill students and staff wear protective gear such as a mask.
- Enforce hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette: Wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and always cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available).
- Maintain routine cleaning: School staff should routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often with the cleaners they typically use. Special cleaning with bleach and other non-detergent-based cleaners is not necessary.
- Seek early treatment of high-risk students and staff: People at high risk for influenza complications who become ill with influenza-like illness should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications is very important for people at high risk because it can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. People at high risk include those who are pregnant, have asthma or diabetes, have compromised immune systems, or have neuromuscular diseases.
- Consider selective school dismissal: Although there are not many schools where all or most students are at high risk (for example, schools for medically fragile children or for pregnant students) a community might decide to dismiss such a school to better protect these high-risk students.
The guidance also emphasizes that schools should work closely with local public health officials in determining whether to implement an expanded range of options for responding to H1N1 influenza in schools if the severity of the virus increases. The guidance says health and school officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption, potential safety risks, and other consequences that school dismissals could cause in education and the wider community.
In the event that a public health officer determines that a school-wide student dismissal policy is needed to protect public health, schools should have plans for continuing the education of students who are at home, through phone calls, homework packets, Internet lessons, and other distance learning approaches.
O'Connell noted that the California Department of Education also offers further guidance, pandemic flu planning checklists, and resources on flu prevention in multiple languages at Flu Prevention - Health Services & School Nursing. Schools, parents, and any member of the public may download a free "Keep Our Schools Healthy" information toolkit that contains posters on how to prevent the spread of any germs and viruses, at Year 2003 - Multimedia.
In addition to the new federal guidance, local educational agencies may also download a Communication Toolkit for Schools from the U.S. Department of Education at Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Schools (Grades K-12) [http://www.flu.gov/plan/school/toolkit.html] (Outside Source).
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Jack O'Connell — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100