It is critical for schools to plan to prevent disease transmission and protect students and staff, as well as local communities, from flu infection. Depending on the timing and severity of a potential H1N1 wave, interventions could include: extra measures to ensure that commonly touched surfaces are disinfected, strict enforcement of exclusion policies for students and staff with flu-like symptoms, or extended school closures. In addition, because schools could be used as vaccine distribution locations, schools should consider how they might accommodate such requests. While all of us want to do all we can to keep students engaged in learning and maintain a sense of normalcy, we need to be ready for whatever the flu season may bring. For the most up to date information, go to: http://www.flu.gov/plan/school/index.html
Updated federal guidelines offer state and local public health and school officials a range of options for responding to 2009 H1N1 influenza in schools, depending on how severe the flu may be in their communities. The guidance says officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption that school dismissals will cause in education and the wider community.
Local educational agencies (LEAs) play an integral role in protecting the health and safety of their district's staff, students and their families. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed the following checklist to assist LEAs in developing and/or improving plans to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.
Building a strong relationship with the local health district is critical for developing a meaningful plan. The key planning activities in this checklist build upon existing contingency plans recommended for school districts by the U.S. Department of Education (Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide For Schools and Communities () (1.56MB). Further information on pandemic influenza can be found at www.pandemicflu.gov. To contact your local public health district, click on: http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/HealthDistricts/tabid/97/default.aspx
Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Schools (Grades K-12)
The attached document provides a series of questions about the new Pandemic H1N1
guidance, requirements for Idaho, school dismissal considerations, school lunch
provisions, staff pay, exclusion recommendations for ill staff and students, questions
about vaccinations, etc.
The decision to dismiss students should be made locally and should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from influenza with the goal of minimizing social disruption and safety risks to children sometimes associated with school dismissal. Based on the experience and knowledge gained in jurisdictions that had large outbreaks in spring 2009, the potential benefits of preemptively dismissing students from school are often outweighed by negative consequences, including students being left home alone, health workers missing shifts when they must stay home with their children, students missing meals, and interruption of students' education.
School and health officials should work closely to balance the risks of flu in their community with the disruption dismissals will cause in both education and the wider community. The length of time schools should be dismissed will vary depending on the type of dismissal as well as the severity and extent of illness. Schools that dismiss students should do so for five to seven calendar days and should reassess whether or not to resume classes after that period. Schools that dismiss students should remain open to teachers and staff so they can continue to provide instruction through other means. See the Technical Report for more details about school dismissals
Reactive dismissals might be appropriate when schools are not able to maintain normal functioning for example, when a significant number and proportion of students have documented fever while at school despite recommendations to keep ill children home.
Preemptive dismissals can be used proactively to decrease the spread of flu. CDC may recommend preemptive school dismissals if the flu starts to cause severe disease in a significantly larger proportion of those affected.
If your school should determine it is necessary to dismiss students, the approved Idaho State Department of Education School Closure Certification Form shall be used.
|Considerations for School Closures|
For USDA Child Nutrition Program H1N1 information please follow the below links.
Visit the State Department's Child Nutrition Programs site to find the most up-to-date information.
|Most recent APB with Q/As for USDA CNP section|
|PowerPoint from Webinar|
|Information on Webinar and location for viewing|
|Links to CNP sites|
|Addendum to State to State Agency Agreement Idaho|
|H1N1 WaiverProceedure for sponsors to follow|
|H1N1 Influenza Questions and Answers|
|Idaho Wavier Request|
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare provides state level public health information regarding Pandemic H1N1 influenza and seasonal influenza. Current information can be found at: www.panflu.idaho.gov
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has also created an email address where school personnel can submit questions to be placed on an Idaho Frequently Asked Questions for Schools document that will be posted on the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare web site www.panflu.idaho.gov . Submit questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org with "School Questions" in the subject line.
Local public health districts are also monitoring and responding to swine flu in Idaho. If you are concerned or have questions about swine flu in your area, contact your local health department at: http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/HealthDistricts/tabid/97/default.aspx