School districts prepare to battle flu

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Last spring, the threat of the H1N1 virus prompted UIL officials to cancel events across the state. New Diana ISD was forced to close its doors for several days after confirming an H1N1 case in one of its students. Summer campers were sent home with flu-like symptoms. The work continues to find a vaccine. Meanwhile, East Texas schools are fending for themselves.

"The planning has specifically addressed this issue because everyone's preparing for it to hit," said Angela Jenkins, with TISD.

She says the district's health services department has already begun meeting with local and state health officials.

"I know our custodial services department is looking into additional chemicals to possibly purchase to address that issue," said Jenkins.

Jenkins says crews have cleaned and disinfected common areas all summer. TISD also plans to implement its rapid alert phone system to send messages home to parents should the unthinkable happen.

"We took a very proactive approach when we first heard of the virus," said Jenkins. "We plan on taking that same action again this coming year."

Lindale ISD transportation director, Bryan Mendez, says his entire fleet of buses has been cleaned for the summer. But, when school starts they will be disinfected weekly, maybe even daily.

"You have anywhere from 50 to 70 kids very close, breathing on each other, talking to each other, touching everything they could possibly get their hands on," said Mendez. "That's just a potential disaster if you have a few sick kids in that group."

It's a better safe than sorry approach with the school and flu season quickly approaching. TEA has not composed any official policies for school districts to follow. They do recommend administrators updating their emergency procedures and policies. Of course, if you have a sick student, keep them home, and keep those little hands and noses as clean as possible. Health officials hope to have an H1N1 vaccine available by October.

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