This time of year is always a busy one for teachers, administrators, and staff, as they get everything ready for the first day of school.  This school year, however, presents a problem they had not contended with until last spring: how to prevent their students from contacting the H1N1 virus at school.  The federal government issued guidelines for schools, and plans to do the same soon for day care facilities, colleges, and employers.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan advocates “prevention, close monitoring, and common sense” in dealing with the dilemma.  Schools should teach health curriculums to students the first two weeks of school.  Hand washing and covering coughs are of the utmost importance.  Many schools are considering furnishing online resources for parents to be able to access materials when their kids miss school.

Ill students and staff should be separated from other students; a room set aside for them should be furnished until they can go home.   They should also be given protective respirators.  N95 masks or N95 Respirators block 95% of very small particles in the air.  These masks should fit properly, be replaced often and thrown away after one use.  They should be placed in a plastic bag before being thrown in the trash, and then the person should wash their hands thoroughly.

Hand sanitizer should be available at the school.  If the schools don’t furnish it, parents could send a bottle with their students to keep in their backpacks or lockers.  Parents play a very important role in protecting their students by keeping them at home if they are showing symptoms of the flu.  If that is the case, they should begin giving them fever reducers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen, as needed.  Gatorade also helps to keep them hydrated.   It is felt that students do not have to stay home after being ill as long as they were last year.  Suggestions are that they may return following 24 hours of being fever-free.

Everyone should get his/her regular seasonal flu shot, and hopefully, the new vaccine for this particular virus will be ready by mid-October.  It’s going to take a team effort to deal with what’s ahead, but hopefully, the cases will be mild.  Let’s do all we can to keep our kids well.

Source: ABC News


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