Novel influenza A (H1N1), commonly known as "swine flu," was first detected in April 2009. In January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the H1N1 virus is still circulating and causing illness, hospitalization and death. The CDC is uncertain how severe the H1N1 outbreak will be in terms of illness and death compared with other influenza viruses. The CDC analyzes key flu indicators each week in their FluView report.
Resources for Schools:
Free Toolkit: H1N1 Special Edition from Education.com - AASA collaborated with Education.com to bring you a comprehensive online toolkit of resources related to the H1N1 virus. Includes 10 Actions School Administrators Can Take Against Swine Flu.
AASA Radio: Creating a Back-to-School Battle Plan for H1N1 Flu - Dan Domenech hosts a roundtable on H1N1 back-to-school strategy with representatives from the CDC, the U.S. Department of Education and a Texas school district.
Pearson's Continuity of Learning Website -Offers print and online resources for students, parents and teachers to continue education if attending school is not an option due to the H1N1 virus or other crisis.
Guidance for schools:
Important: Report School Dismissals
The School Dismissal Monitoring System sponsored by the CDC and the Department of Education is now operational. Report novel influenza (H1N1)-flu related school or school district dismissals at www.cdc.gov/FluSchoolDismissal.
Emergency Planning for Schools
The DOE's Emergency Planning: Influenza Outbreak page offers tools to help school leaders disseminate health information, plan for staff and student absences, and maintain a learning environment. In addition, the School Planning website from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the DOE includes checklists to assist local educational agencies in developing and/or improving plans to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.
Avoiding the Flu
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. There are common-sense measures people can take to prevent getting and spreading influenza:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
For more information, see the CDC Fact Sheet on Preventing the Flu.
Additional Guidance for School Leaders
The U.S. Dept. of Education and the CDC recommend that schools:
- Be alert to students exhibiting any influenza-like illness.
- Coordinate with public health partners in your community.
- Ask students, staff and faculty to stay home if they are sick.
- Have an emergency management crisis plan in place and make sure faculty and staff are aware of the plan.
- Keep families, health officials and the community informed about what the district is doing to protect students.
Timeline of H1N1 Flu:
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the virus to be a full-scale pandemic, raising its infectious diseases alert to Phase 6, its highest level.
On Oct. 24, 2009, President Obama declared swine flu a national emergency. The announcement allows health care facilities to decide whether to implement emergency plans to deal with the pandemic. According to the CDC, as of Oct. 24, 1,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of swine flu and it's active in 46 states.
On Dec. 10, 2009, federal health officials said almost 10,000 people have died of swine flu since April. Officials also said that 50 million Americans, one sixth of the country, had caught the disease, and that 213,000 people had been sick enough to be hospitalized. (Source: New York Times, Dec. 10)
On Jan. 6, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a flu webcast. Officials said districts in about two thirds of states have hosted vaccine clinics for students. Officials also said it is time for children under age 10 to get their second H1N1 vaccine. The CDC recommends that children receive the second dose about four weeks after the first dose.
On Jan. 7, 2010, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said people should get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu while there is a lull in flu activity and vaccine supplies are plentiful. U.S. health officials have cautioned that a new outbreak is possible.
On Jan. 15, 2010, the CDC estimated that between 39 million and 80 million cases of 2009 H1N1 occurred between April and December 2009, and between about 7,880 and 16,460 H1N1-related deaths occurred in that timeframe. The CDC is recommending influenza vaccination as the most important step in protecting against the flu. About 61 million Americans have been vaccinated.