School Closures No Longer Recommended In Case Of Flu
According to public health officials, there are 11 confirmed cases of flu A H1N1 – formerly known as the swine flu – in Los Angeles County with none of the cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The latest statistics show that there are 403 confirmed cases nationwide, with the highest concentration of cases in New York, with 90 cases and Illinois, with 82 cases. In Texas, where the only death has occurred, there are 41 cases and California has 49 confirmed cases.
Despite the inevitable spread of the disease, the rate of infection seems to have been exceeded by hysteria over the illness, filling emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with a group tagged the “worried well.”
Because most of the cases have been mild and it is not spreading as fast or as severely as initially believed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pulled back its recommendation that entire schools be closed if a case is found in a student.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said the new recommendations will allow schools to get back to normal while maintaining vigilance in light of the potential threat.
“I am pleased that the Centers for Disease Control has determined that the level of severity of the H1N1 flu does not warrant automatic school-wide student dismissal even in instances of a confirmed case of the virus,” he said. “While local health officials may always determine if it is necessary to close a campus due to a public health threat, this new guidance will allow our schools to resume their normal operations and keep healthy students in class and learning.
“I appreciate the initial concern for our school children and staff that lead to the recommendation of dismissing students from any campus that had a confirmed or suspected case of the infection. It is important to note that the recommendations on steps we can all take to keep ourselves and our schools healthy remain in place. Students and staff who are sick should stay home. Everyone should cover their coughs and sneezes, and frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. I continue to encourage schools and districts to stay in close contact with public health officials for any new information about this flu virus and any potential future changes in student dismissal policy.”
Centers for Disease Control Recommendations:
- School closure is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of novel influenza A (H1N1) and, in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function.
- Schools that were closed based on previous interim CDC guidance related to this outbreak may reopen.
- Students, faculty or staff with influenza-like illness (fever with a cough or sore throat) should stay home and not attend school or go into the community except to seek medical care for at least 7 days even if symptoms resolve sooner.
- Students, faculty and staff who are still sick 7 days after they become ill should continue to stay home from school until at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved.
- Students, faculty and staff who appear to have an influenza-like illness at arrival or become ill during the school day should be isolated promptly in a room separate from other students and sent home.
- Parents and guardians should monitor their school-aged children, and faculty and staff should self-monitor every morning for symptoms of influenza-like illness.
- Ill students should not attend alternative child care or congregate in settings other than school.
- School administrators should communicate regularly with local public health officials to obtain guidance about reporting of influenza-like illnesses in the school.
- Schools can help serve as a focus for educational activities aimed at promoting ways to reduce the spread of influenza, including hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
- Students, faculty and staff should stringently follow sanitary measures to reduce the spread of influenza, including covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or coughing or sneezing into their sleeve if a tissue isn’t available), frequently washing hands with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer if hand washing with soap and water is not possible.