Schools prep for possible reappearance of H1N1 | August 28, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - August 28, 2009

Schools prep for possible reappearance of H1N1

District says no large-scale closures, but greater vigilance expected

by Geoff Gillette

During the initial appearance of the H1N1 "Swine Flu" virus earlier this year, officials with the San Ramon Valley Unified School District were quick to respond to any potential cases of the virus. In some cases, schools were shut down and sterilized by custodial staff. In other cases, students were simply asked to remain home until it was felt they were no longer contagious.

As the district prepares for the return of students to the classrooms, personnel are also preparing for a potential return of the virus.

"We're not going to be going through and sterilizing every school," said SRVUSD spokesman Terry Koehne. "What we'll continue to do is stay on top of and be out in front of, any new federal, state or county guidelines."

Since the cases of H1N1 have trailed off, health officials have expressed concerns that the virus could return in greater strength in the winter months. On Tuesday, officials with the National Centers for Disease Control stated that as many as 60 million-120 million Americans could contract the virus this fall and winter.

Worst case scenarios from the CDC state that as many as 90,000 of the cases could be fatal.

New guidelines have come out for how the virus should be handled and what schools should do as they move into the months most commonly associated with the flu.

"It's a part of the federal guidelines that we'll be recommending to our schools. The basic things like hand hygiene, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze," Koehne said. "As far as cleaning schools, we'll keep doing what we've always done and keep using what we've always used."

If students or teachers are suspected of having swine flu, the guidelines say they should be separated from the general population of the school, and if it does turn out to be H1N1, they should go home.

"We always tell parents that if your child is sick to keep them at home," Koehne explained. "We'll continue to hammer that message that if your child has flu-like symptoms, keep them home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms go away."

While they do not plan on immediate school closures if a student or faculty member comes down with swine flu, the district will be giving schools the possibility of selective dismissal.

"You'd use your own discretion about closing a school, but it would have to be a very serious situation," Koehne stated. "We took our lead from the Contra Costa Health Department in closing the school. I think they've sort of come full circle when it comes to things like that. They're no longer recommending that you close the school."