The flu and your school
Melissa Walker has taken this flu season personally. A 14-year-old friend of her daughter’s recently passed away from it.
Walker, the Iowa Department of Education’s school nurse consultant, says school officials need to be on the watch for students who develop a dry cough, fever over 100 degrees, sore throat, fatigue and muscle aches. Symptoms usually come on quickly.
But schools also should work to be proactive to prevent the unnecessary spread of the flu.
Here are some things students and staff members can do this flu season:
- Stay home when ill.
- Wash your hands often; avoid touching the face.
- Put hand sanitizer in each classroom and on the bus.
- Have tissues available.
- Teach the kids that when they cough or sneeze, they should do it into the elbow.
- Consider the design of your classroom, specifically working in pods. When children face one another, it magnifies the chance of spreading illness.
- Don’t forget the bus – it is a closed space which could allow for transmitting illness. Disinfect hand rails, door rails – any handled interior surfaces.
- Clean surfaces frequently with disinfectant.
- Get a flu shot. Though it doesn’t cover every strain, it does provide some protection.
- Educate parents that children need to stay home for a full 24 hours after symptoms have dissipated and the fever is gone without the use of fever reducers.
“The schools need to think about the safety of their students by following those measures,” Walker said.
Schools also are reminded that they need to report absences of 10 percent or greater in each building to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology.