Schools, the flu and vaccines: What You Need to Know
The H1N1 virus has killed thousands of people across the country
How to Talk to Your Child About the Swine Flu
- Ask your child what she knows about swine flu and what she is concerned about. Explain what the flu is, but keep it simple. Tell her that if she gets the flu, you will take good care of her.
- Let her know that most of the cases have been mild and that most people have gotten better in a few days.
- Make sure your child washes her hands frequently and for the proper length of time. Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends singing "Happy Birthday" while children wash their hands to make sure they've scrubbed long enough to get rid of germs. If your child doesn't have access to soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do.
- Tell your child to cover her mouth with a tissue or her arm when she coughs to prevent the spread of germs.
- Tell her to avoid touching her eyes, nose or mouth. That's how germs are spread.
- If your child is worried because her school is closed, reassure her that it will reopen in a few days. Schools shut down to protect other kids from getting sick.
By GreatSchools Staff
The H1N1 virus is sweeping the country --
Schools on High Alert
Schools and state and county public health departments are on high alert, monitoring the situation closely and issuing new directives frequently.
Most Cases So Far Have Been Mild
Despite the alarm and the precautions taken, most cases reported have been relatively mild and have not required a doctor's care. Dr. Mitch Katz, director of San Francisco's Department of Public Health, urges people not to go to their doctor unless they actually need medical attention. Since the first reported death in the United States so far, a 23-month-old toddler in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Have a Family Plan in Place
The swine flu is unpredictable as it spreads and new schools are closed every day. Have a plan in place for who will look after your child if his school shuts down. Federal and local government officials are urging employers to be flexible during this time so that parents can be home with their kids if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are schools closing?
Children are particularly susceptible to the swine flu, and illness tends to spread quickly among them. The goal of shutting down a school is to slow the spread of the disease in a community, decrease the number of people who get sick and buy time for the production and distribution of a vaccine for this new virus.
How do I find out if my school is closed?
Most schools have a communications plan for closures and will notify you. You can also call the school or check its Web site. Find the correct contact information by searching for your school on GreatSchools.
Who determines when a school should shut down?
The CDC recommends that local public health officers order a school to close if there is one confirmed or strongly suspected case of swine flu on campus. Once the school is closed, school officials should also cancel gatherings such as sports or social events. To prevent further spread of the flu, parents should not allow their children to get together with other students, or send them to daycare, during the time the school is shut down.
Once a school closes, when will it reopen?
According to the CDC, the school should resume normal operations only after no other confirmed cases have been reported for 14 days after the last case of swine flu. It's up to the school district and local health officials to make that decision.