Schools brace for H1N1 resurgenceIf an autumn H1N1 outbreak strikes Red Wing schools, school officials say they will be prepared.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
If an autumn H1N1 outbreak strikes Red Wing schools, school officials say they will be prepared.
During a districtwide meeting Thursday, district leaders briefed staff on the possibilities of the H1N1 virus - commonly referred to as swine flu - spreading among Red Wing students.
District nurse Kris Klassen said she thinks the possibility of a major outbreak appears unlikely, but said students and teachers must take precautions to prevent the virus from arriving in Red Wing schools.
"I guess I'm preparing for the worst and hoping it doesn't happen," Klassen said Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control said in an August update that the overall impact of H1N1 should be greater than in the spring, when the virus first gained national attention.
H1N1 vaccines are expected to arrive in October, Klassen said. She and public health officials said it is "very likely" Red Wing High School could become a community vaccination center.
Supt. Stan Slessor said he would be "very open" to the possibility.
"We could be a center and we could become very efficient," he said.
District staff on Thursday also received seasonal flu shots at the meeting - a tack that's never been taken before in Red Wing, Slessor said.
Klassen reminded teachers to stay proactive in combating the spread of H1N1.
"Talk to your students right away," she said. "Talk to them about good hand washing."
Students on the first day of school will be given a guide on seasonal flu and H1N1 to bring home for parents. The pamphlet, produced by the CDC, instructs parents how to identify flu and H1N1 symptoms, how to prevent the spread and what to do if a child becomes sick.
Among the recommendations for children and adults:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent spreading of germs.
If students are suspected of contracting H1N1, Klassen said they will be sent home if two of three symptoms are present: a fever over 100 degrees, a cough or a sore throat.
Klassen said students and parents will "just have to wait it out," using standard flu remedies, including fluids and rest.
Students can return to school once symptoms have disappeared for 24 hours without the aid of medication.
Plans are in place in case the virus spreads, she said. If more than 5 percent of students in a building are absent with flu symptoms, or if more than three students in a classroom show symptoms, the Department of Health must be contacted.
Slessor said the district must take essential steps to manage the illness.
"We do want our schools to stay open," he said. "It's productive to keep schools open and to encourage kids to practice good health."