Preschool Plan for the H1N1 Flu

Main Resource: Center for Disease Control in Atlanta
As a school, we have been looking at guidelines from the Center for Disease Control to help us prepare for the flu season and specifically, the H1N1 flu. I am asking each parent in your family to carefully read the recommended procedures for providing as much prevention as possible in our own community.

Prevention is the first response:
•    Stay home when sick: Our existing policy requires that children stay home 24 hours after they are fever free. With the H1N1, we have seen children home for a minimum of 5 to 7 days. In some circumstances, children with secondary infections may need to stay home for more than two weeks. Watch for the child who is still getting fevers after 7 days. Call your physician to report this and to watch for secondary infections. The CDC also recommends those people taking the antiviral medicine, such as Tamiflu, should stay home.
•    Students and staff with flu-like symptoms need to be separated from the well children and staff. Any staff member waiting for the parent to pick the child up will need to wear a surgical mask or reasonable facsimile. Parents need to come immediately to pick up their child. Staff who are ill will also have to go home immediately. Make a plan at home to cover for such an eventuality.
•    Hand hygiene through hand washing with soap and water should happen frequently throughout the day for anyone working in the classroom and for children. Covering any sneezing or coughing with a tissue or your elbow is essential in prevention of the flu.
•    Cleaning of the surfaces in the classroom, and especially, the frequently used toys is critical in infection prevention. Both staff and parents working in the classroom can help make that a regular part of the routine of the day. No different cleaning products other than what we use are needed according to the CDC.
•    Early Treatment for high-risk staff, parents and students is essential according to the CDC. High risk refers to children or adults who have asthma, diabetes, adults who are pregnant, have compromised immune systems or neurological disorders.
•    Active Screening of children as they arrive at school is essential by the staff for fever, and other symptoms of the flu or other apparent symptoms. Staff need to be vigilant in watching for any symptoms throughout the day.
If the Flu impacts the preschool population:
•    Staying at home when you are high risk if the flu is in the immediate school community.
•    Children must stay at home if they have sick family members (five days from the day the first household member got sick.) This is the time period they are most likely to get sick themselves.
•    Extend the period for ill persons to stay at home as the momentum of the flu increases. With the H1N1 virus, the mandatory at home period is from 5-7 days.
•    Parents, be prepared to trade with another parent in your classroom, should you be sick on your coop day. Discuss this with another family ahead of time.

School Closure Possibility

School or classroom dismissal would be based on the severity of the flu on our preschool community. A reactive closure is one in which a significant number of children, staff and parents in a variety of rooms were already sick and it was impacting the functioning of the program. A pre-emptive closure would be one in which we closed the school as we saw one class of children getting very sick and wanted to prevent further illness from spreading. The length of the dismissal would also depend on the type of dismissal and the severity. Schools that need to do this type of closure, are advised by the CDC to do so for a period of five to seven days.

Another recommendation by the CDC is to have each family create a plan to handle this possibility. This will minimize financial stresses and any other family concerns.

The Board Presidents are always involved in any school closure decision. This would be a very well thought-through decision with a heavy emphasis on the CDC recommendations. The preschool is also on the robo-call list for the San Diego City School District and we have followed their lead in the past during the wildfire season when the air quality was extremely poor. See me, or any Board Member with questions or concerns. Classroom Representatives will be responsible for contacting their class members. Parents need to be sure that they can always be reached by email or phone.

Thank you. Patty