School superintendents in eastern Suffolk have been advised by the County Health Department that they may close schools down this year to prevent the spread of swine flu.
Parents are being instructed to keep children with flu symptoms home for at least 24 hours after they are fever-free with no medication. Parents are also being instructed to keep children home if any family member has flu symptoms, until five days after the family member became ill.
Schools have been advised that children and employees in high risk populations, including those with cardiac, respiratory and immune system problems, should stay home from school/work if there is an outbreak, as the swine flu is particularly dangerous for this population.
Schools are being asked to isolate sick children and employees who develop flu symptoms while in school and are waiting to go home. It is recommended that employees like school nurses wear surgical masks when dealing with these patients. Schools are being asked to routinely clean surfaces in the school with regular cleaning materials.
Children are being taught that when they cough or sneeze they should do so into their bent elbows, or, if they have to, into a tissue. The tissue should then be immediately thrown away and their hands washed. Children are also being instructed in proper handwashing, that involves using soap and scrubbing all parts of the hand for twenty seconds.
Some school are installing hand sanitizing dispensers throughout the buildling, though anti-bacterial cleansers will not kill swine flu virus. The Health Department will provide a swine flu vaccine in October. It is not clear whether the vaccine will be widely available, or just to special at-risk populations. Pregnant women, health care workers and children are being targetted for the vaccine, according to Bloomberg.