Schools prepare for possible cases of swine flu

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email
Posted by Dana Franks - email

NEW HOPE, AL (WAFF) - The state is preparing to release guidelines for parents and schools to deal with swine flu once children head back to class. It's a situation local schools and health leaders are already preparing to handle.

Health officials around the country are anticipating swine flu cases, and schools are building strategies to deal with swine flu.

Educators up north are looking at a plan for when to close schools and how to best isolate sick students. But what about closer to home? Is there a plan in place here to handle a potential influenza outbreak?

Monya Seibert has five children enrolled in the New Hope School System. She's not too concerned yet about an influenza outbreak.

"The school nurse here is excellent. She really watches out for things and really tries to keep the kids at home if they are sick," said parent Monya Seibert.

Swine flu closed city and county schools back in may for several days. Cleaning crews went in and decontaminated classrooms and preschools, while children were told to protect themselves.

"Stressing the washing of hands, don't touch your face, nose and eyes," said Seibert.

The threat of swine flu, again, has educators preparing to deal with the virus, which has a tendency to sicken young people.

Dr. Larry Robey with the Madison County Health Department said the swine flu virus has been circulating all summer and that schools should be ready.

"We've collected information to quickly give to teachers or concerned parents if it needs to be reported to the schools," Robey said.

Still your best shot at staying healthy is a flu shot. There is an H1N1 vaccine in production and could be ready for the public by fall.

Schools across the country hope it will be enough to keep kids from getting sick.

"I think there's going to be a lot of cases, but we are fully prepared to tackle this head on. We have lots of flu tests and getting ready for vaccinations. Prepared to handle it,' said New Hope Children's Clinic Director Amy Thomas.

State health officials are holding a news conference Friday at 1 p.m. to inform parents and schools on how to prepare for the 2009-2010 influenza season.

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