Local schools guard against swine flu

SANDUSKY Local schools are preparing for the swine flu's return this fall. The Center
susanmcmillan
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Local schools are preparing for the swine flu's return this fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the swine flu -- which closed several schools in the spring -- will return in force once school resumes and school officials are heeding the warning.

A seasonal flu vaccine is "ready to go," federal health officials said earlier this month, and a supplemental H1N1 vaccine should be available by mid-October.

In the meantime, the Ohio Department of Education is advising schools to review their emergency plans, offer families tips for preventing illness and talk with local health departments about potential school closures.

Perkins School superintendent Jim Gunner said his district will probably send an additional information packet home with students on the first day of school and distribute similar information among employees.

The CDC is advising that anyone with flu-like symptoms stay home at least 24 hours after the fever subsides.

Gunner also plans to meet with his administrative team this week to talk about when to close schools if H1N1 spreads.

If it's just a few cases, Gunner said, the schools will stay open. But considerations would change if dozens or hundreds of students and employees become ill.

"If the numbers grow and grow rapidly, then obviously there's going to be a lot more questions about whether the schools stay open or not," Gunner said.

Other superintendents said their preparations are mostly in line with those for past flu seasons.

"Every year we send letters home to say if your kids are sick, keep them home," Port Clinton Schools superintendent Patrick Adkins said.

Sandusky Schools superintendent Bill Pahl said crews are cleaning the school buildings now and will keep them "spick and span" when students return.

Other than that, he said, guarding against illness this year is largely a matter of asking everyone to pay careful attention to potential flu symptoms.

"Of course we'll encourage staff and students to keep their hands clean and do all the right things to try and keep a handle on that situation," he said.