As you may have heard, a new influenza virus, called the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, was first identified in the United States in late April 2009. Public health officials now know far more about the new H1N1 flu virus than when it was first detected in April 2009.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anticipates more illness from the new H1N1 influenza than this past spring and more school-based outbreaks because influenza is typically transmitted more easily in fall and winter. The co-occurrence of H1N1 and seasonal influenza may further escalate the level of illness. As a result, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) has provided guidance to help schools promote a safer environment for students and staff and reduce exposure to influenza during the 2010-11 school year.
As you may know, flu can easily spread from person to person. Therefore, we are taking steps to reduce the spread of flu in Strongsville City Schools. We want to keep the schools open and functioning in a normal manner during this flu season. But, we need your help to do this.
For now we are doing everything we can to keep our school functioning as usual. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. You can set a good example by doing this yourself.
- Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. Covering up their coughs or sneezes using the elbow, arm or sleeve instead of the hand when a tissue is unavailable.
- Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.8 degrees Celsius or greater), cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea. If you are not able to measure a temperature, the sick person might have a fever if he or she feels warm, has a flushed appearance, or is sweating or shivering.
- Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing medications (any medication that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.
- Do not send children to school if they are sick. Any children who are determined to be sick while at school will be sent home. Students will be assessed for signs and symptoms of illness and those with flu like illness and/or fever will be separated from other students and provided with a surgical mask while waiting to go home.
- Get your family vaccinated for seasonal flu and H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.
Public health officials will be continually monitoring the spread of flu, the severity of the illness it is causing, and whether the virus characteristics are changing. The CCBH will continue to provide schools an updated assessment of illness severity and revise guidance as indicated.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the flu, please contact Crystal Tackaberry, District School Nurse at 440-572-7069. For additional information, visit www.flu.gov(1-800-232-4636), or the Cuyahoga County Board of Health at www.ccbh.net (216-201-2001).