Consistent with guidance issued today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today announced new guidelines about dismissals of children/students attending K-12 grades and young children/infants attending childcare facilities due to recent developments in the novel swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in California and other states.
“We’re entering a new phase of response to the novel H1N1 outbreak,” Horton said. “When less was known about this virus, it was prudent to implement multiple measures to protect individuals and impede its spread. This included dismissing students from schools when a student contracted H1N1. This action has been consistent with previous Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. Many jurisdictions around the country have temporarily dismissed students from schools.”
Dr. Horton noted that over the last week, additional data collected nationally by the CDC and within the state by CDPH provided a clearer picture about H1N1. “Most cases in the U.S. have not been severe; the spectrum of illness appears to be more consistent with seasonal influenza,” Horton explained. “Accordingly, CDC and CDPH have updated their guidance.”
As a primary means to reduce spread of influenza in schools, CDC and CDPH recommend early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and good cough and hand hygiene etiquette (hand-washing with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer.
Specifically CDC and CDPH recommend:
School closure is no longer advised for a suspected or confirmed case of novel influenza A (H1N1) and, in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function.
Schools that were closed based on previous interim CDPH guidance related to this outbreak may reopen.
Students, faculty or staff with influenza-like illness (fever with a cough or sore throat) should stay home and not attend school or go into the community except to seek medical care for at least 7 days after the onset of symptoms or until acute symptoms (e.g., fever) have resolved, whichever is longer.
Students, faculty and staff who appear to have an influenza-like illness at arrival or become ill during the school day should be isolated promptly in a room separate from other students and sent home.
Parents and guardians should monitor their school-aged children, and faculty and staff should self-monitor every morning for symptoms of influenza-like illness.
Ill students should not attend alternative child care or congregate in settings other than school.
School administrators should communicate regularly with local public health officials to obtain guidance about reporting of influenza-like illnesses in the school.
Schools can help serve as a focus for educational activities aimed at promoting ways to reduce the spread of influenza, including hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
Students, faculty and staff should stringently follow sanitary measures to reduce the spread of influenza, including covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or coughing or sneezing into their sleeve if a tissue isn’t available), frequently washing hands with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer if hand washing with soap and water is not possible.
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