Swine flu not in area schools
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Parents need not panic about the possibility of their children coming down with the H1N1 flu virus, school and health officials said.
No cases of swine flu have occurred at Escambia County Schools, Superintendent Billy Hines said. As of last week, the county had seen nine cases. The majority of cases across the state have occurred in children.
Susan Smith, registered nurse for Escambia County Schools, said the school system is using simple precautions to help stop the spread of disease.
Smith said the simplest advice to stop the spread of the disease is “hand washing, hand washing, hand washing.”
Smith said there have also been no calls from concerned parents about the disease this year.
Last spring, the swine flu outbreak closed several schools in Huntsville for as much as a week and postponed statewide athletic events.
But new guidelines from the CDC are not nearly as strict. Students or faculty with H1N1 are advised to stay home for no longer than 24 hours after fever and symptoms are gone, and schools are not advised to close unless so many students or faculty are absent that they cannot operate.
The state Department of Education is preparing for mass H1N1 vaccinations at schools, but vaccines likely won’t be available until October.
According to the advice schools have received from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, the disease is not as serious as was thought last spring, although it is highly contagious, Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said.
In the meantime, students will likely get sick, Superintendent Smith said.