Schools work to prevent flu spread

Published 9:17 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

The current outbreak of the H1N1 flu — a mixture of swine flu, bird flu and human flu — has officials in all walks of life concerned, but school officials are also taking action to prevent the spread of the flu among students.

Demopolis City Schools superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said the four schools in the system have been given instruction on how to prevent the spread of influenza. The school system sent a letter home with each student outlining ways to prevent the spread of flu, advising parents to keep sick students at home.

“Our school nurse, Geraldine Walker, met with each principal on Thursday,” Vickers said. “She reviewed the pandemic flu plan and things that they can do that are preventative. We are going to remind students to wash their hands. We are making sure we have soap and paper towels in our elementary schools and have our hand sanitizer stations filled in our middle school and high school areas.

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“We are also looking into purchasing disinfectant wipes and things like that for the teachers to have. We know they get a lot of those early in the year, but they may be running out towards the last 20 days of school.”

The school system sent a letter home with each student detailing preventative measures and ideas to help prevent the spread of flu.

“What we’re doing now is prevention,” Walker said. “We’re making sure that we have plenty of soap on hand as well as Clorox wipes. We’re wiping down the desks and doorknobs at the end of the day. The custodians have been instructed as to what to do. They’ve been doing a good job already, keeping everything clean, keeping the bathrooms and water fountains clean. We’re replacing the filters on the air conditioners that are clogged up.

“Any child that has a temperature of 100 degrees is being sent home. We are asking parents to keep their children home if they are sick, and we’re asking staff members who are sick to stay home. We’re making daily announcements about using tissue when they sneeze, coughing into their sleeve and not on their hand, and to make sure they use the soap and hand sanitizers.”

In reaction to the spread of the flu, the Alabama High School Athletic Association has postponed its athletic events indefinitely to decrease the spread of the disease.

“What people need to remember in this type of situation is remain calm and use really good hygiene,” Vickers said. “These are things to reinforce to their kids: If you cough, cover your mouth. If you go to the restroom, wash your hands, and if you’re out in a crowd, wash your hands. The more we can do those types of things, the better off we all are in stopping any type of flu or virus.”