School cautius about H1N1 flu as studens head back to classes

When students return to classes next week, school officials are taking all precautions to combat the risk of cases of H1N1 influenza virus.

“As with any health-related matter, Clearview School Division follows the direction given by Alberta Health,” said Superintendent John Bailey.

“We take advice from government, the ministries of education and health and the community,” said East Central Alberta Catholic Schools Superintendent Steve Mackenzie.

After H1N1 swept the globe last spring, health officials are expecting higher rates of the virus as fall and the regular flu season approach.

Increased hygiene and cleanliness of facilities are prime steps that school divisions are stressing.

Hand-washing with soap and warm water or with a hand sanitizer is one of the most-effective ways to stop the spread of the infection.

A new respiratory virus, it can spread from person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks.

People can become infected by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching either their own mouth or nose before washing their hands.

When students are ill with the flu, Clearview requests that parents notify their child’s school to report the flu, said Bailey.

“We will closely monitor to watch flu levels.”

Both school divisions are diligently preparing to handle any severe cases of H1N1.

“We are continually reviewing our pandemic plan which is part of our emergency plan,” said Bailey.

He noted that Clearview would fully cooperate with any provincial or national program to vaccinate students, children and youth.

“We have a pandemic plan and we’ve been working with agencies and communities to update it,” said Mackenzie, who said that hand sanitizers will also be considered.

Schools and school divisions will inform students, parents and the community about any important notices.

Information will also be available on website of schools and school divisons.

An Alberta Education toolkit will answer questions from students, parents, school-based staff and jurisdiction administrators regarding the H1N1 virus. This comprehensive toolkit includes updates and information from Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health and Wellness. For more information, visit: www.education.alberta.ca/admin/resources/healthandsafety/h1n1.aspx

To stop the virus from spreading, people are requested to cover your cough, sneeze or cough into your elbow or arm – not your hand.

As with a normal influenza, the symptoms of H1N1 include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat and some people have even reported vomiting and diarrhea.

Influenza usually starts with the sudden onset of a fever, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle aches and most people recover from influenza in about one week.

The Government of Alberta has already been preparing the health system and the province for an influenza pandemic since 1999.

Alberta’s Plan for Pandemic Influenza will direct activities of the government, Alberta Health Services and other key groups in response to pandemic influenza to ensure a coordinated response.

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