City, county schools taking precautions against swine flu

First Posted: 8/14/2009

With school gearing up in less then two weeks, administrators are looking into what can be done to ensure students are in a safe, healthy learning environment.
This year that discussion includes what can be done to reduce the spread of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, in the schools. With Surry County now having two reported cases of the virus and the possibility of more unreported cases, parents are being encouraged to watch for signs of the virus in their children while teachers and principals are ready to emphasize preventative practices in the schools.
We want to calm fears and encourage folks to stay informed, said Thomas Williams Jr., media relations specialist with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center. We encourage parents to pay attention to their children if they exhibit lethargy or feel sick signs they may be coming down with something. The main thing is not to panic.
Williams met with the Surry County Schools Leadership Team this month where he did a 30-minute presentation on the virus and provided handouts about the symptoms as well as how to prevent the spread of the virus and how to clean schools.
The Leadership Team is made up of central office staff and the principals at each of the systems 17 schools. The principals will in turn take that information back to their teachers and into the classrooms.
One of the main things we are going to do is encourage everyone to keep washing their hands with warm, soapy water, said Sonia Dickerson, teacher quality coordinator, on the plans the school system has in place. Another thing we are doing is looking into using different cleaners in the schools. We have handouts and brochures already printed that are elementary, middle school and high school-specific about preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Vickie Cameron, executive director of curriculum and instruction with Mount Airy City Schools, recently met with the nurses serving the school system to discuss a plan of action.
We will follow the protocol set up by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) using standard precautions such as hand washing and well follow the procedures that are necessary if we need to isolate a student until we get them home and taken care of, she said. Well be in contact with parents. We are taking all of the necessary precautions.
Williams also urges parents to tell their children to wash their hands as often as possible as well as to cough or sneeze into a tissue or into their sleeve as opposed to into their hands. He said that the Heath and Nutrition Center is preparing for the H1N1 virus as it is preparing for the regular seasonal flu which usually crops up in the fall.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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