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School News
H1N1 (Swine) Flu information
 
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Pinellas County Schools is working collaboratively with its colleagues at the Pinellas County Health Department to keep abreast of the reported cases of swine flu in the United States.

The district is encouraging parents, students and staff members to practice good hygiene to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following actions:

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

For frequently asked questions and additional information, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm

Other helpful Web sites

 www.cdc.gov
www.doh.state.fl.us
www.pinellashealth.com

Helpful phone numbers

Pinellas Health Department - 727-824-6932
Florida Swine Flu Information Line - 1-800-775-8039

Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Julie M. Janssen sent out a letter to parents and guardians on May 4.

Janssen’s letter

May 4, 2009
Dear Parents and Guardians,

As you know, an outbreak of H1N1 (swine) flu has caused the U.S. to issue a public health emergency.

There now are confirmed cases in the Tampa Bay area. Please be assured that we take this situation very seriously and we are doing everything possible to protect the health of our students.

I have charged the District’s Safety & Security Council (DSSC) with the responsibility of managing this emergency. The DSSC will communicate with federal, state and county officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Education and the Pinellas County Department of Health and Emergency Management. They will work with principals to keep you updated about this ever-changing situation.

At this time, the state and local health departments have advised us that students can continue to come to school, as long as they are not sick and do not think they have flu symptoms.

Flu-like symptoms include: fever (over 100 degrees F.), cough, sore throat, runny nose, or stuffy nose. Additional symptoms may be experienced with swine flu, including muscle pain, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Flu spreads easily. If you suspect your child is getting the flu, it is important that he/she does not attend school or go anywhere else - such as group childcare, the mall, or sporting events - where other people would be exposed to flu germs.

It is also important to teach your children how to reduce their risk of getting the flu and protect others from infection. Please teach them the following healthy habits:

• Wash their hands often. Washing with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds is ideal (that’s about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice).

• Use hand sanitizers properly. Gels, rubs, and hand wipes all work well, as long as they contain at least 60 percent alcohol. Hand wipes must be disposed of properly. Always read and follow label instructions when using hand sanitizers.

• Keep their hands away from their face and avoid touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of their elbow. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve - not your hands!

While the current situation does not warrant closing schools, if swine flu continues to spread, it may become necessary to close a school(s) for a period of time.

We are working with our district health services department, the Pinellas Health Department and the State Department of Health officials to monitor the situation here and will make all decisions in consultation with them. We will inform parents immediately if the situation changes and it becomes necessary to close schools. We also are consulting with local officials regarding best cleaning practices for infection control in our buildings.

If a school is closed, please do not make arrangements - such as sending children to a friend's home or group childcare - that will put them in close contact with other children. It is important to plan ahead. Have a family discussion now to consider options in advance of the event of a school closing.

Please stay informed by paying attention to media reports and the district Web site, www.pcsb.org.

If you have any questions regarding H1N1 Influenza and its impact on school operations, please contact your school’s principal or the Pinellas Health Department at 727-824-6932.

Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our children and our schools healthy.

Julie M. Janssen, Ed.D.
Superintendent
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