By GreatSchools Staff
The H1N1 virus is sweeping the country --
Schools and state and county public health departments are on high alert, monitoring the situation closely and issuing new directives frequently.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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