Friday, August 7, 2009
Medical Reports: Swine Flu and back to school
There's a new school of thought tonight about how schools should handle the flu, and the guidelines are strict.
WSVN -- Earlier this year, one case was enough to close down a school. Hallandale Beach high school, two schools in Doral and countless others across the nation were shut down when students became sick with the H1N1 Swine Flu virus. It set off panic among students and parents.
Concerned Parent: "Why didn't anybody let us know? The word comes across the news and my daughter's a student."
This school year, the national health and security leaders hope to avoid that.
Janet Napalitano, Secretary Homeland Security: "Once you close a school as we saw last spring, that causes a very significant ripple effect."
The departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the CDC in Atlanta are releasing guidelines for local school officials on how to deal with H1N1 outbreaks.
Janet Napalitano: "Ill students and staff should be separated and be given protective gear such as a mask until they can leave a school."
And sick students and staff will be sent home.
Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education: "In a room set aside so that if a child shows up to school sick, there's a place for them to stay until they can be sent home to get well, and parents must be absolutely vigilant in identifying signs of the flu."
Schools are asked to educate students and staff about how to protect themselves from getting sick.
Arne Duncan: "Students in kindergarten through 12th grade should be encouraged to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and cough into the sleeves, not their hands."
And closing a school should be a choice of last resort.
Janet Napalitano: "Only schools with high numbers of high risk students or students getting the flu should actually consider closure."
Here in Florida, the H1N1 flu virus continues to spread. There were 14 deaths in July alone.
Scott McPherson, Florida Pandemic Committee: "We know this virus really hasn't gone away yet in this country."
And school officials in Miami Dade and Broward County say they are ready to deal with it.
Jim Notter, Superintendent Broward Schools: "Our health services staff did an in-depth detail with them in terms of processes and procedures."
These procedures are based on the current strain of H1N1 that is infecting people. National officials warn if the virus mutates more strict guidelines will be put into place.
Dr Tom Frieden, Centers for Disease Control Director: "If the virus were to change and become more deadly, that's a possibility and we have to plan to address that kind of situation if it were to arise."
Charles Billi: "If the virus does become more deadly it could mean checking students and staff for signs of illness before they are allowed in schools. It could also means, no school assemblies or large gatherings.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
U.S. H1N1 flu website:
Broward Public Schools Website:
Miami-Dade Public Schools: