CDC issues new influenza guidance for public agencies, schools

August 10, 2009

Public health agencies and schools have new federal guidance at their disposal for how to respond to 2009 H1N1 influenza in schools, thanks to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations encourage officials to weigh the risk of community-acquired flu with the decision to close schools or community functions.

Public health agencies and schools have new federal guidance at their disposal for how to respond to 2009 H1N1 influenza in schools, thanks to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations encourage officials to weigh the risk of community-acquired flu with the decision to close schools or community functions.

The new CDC input belongs to a greater national structure to address new H1N1 influenza, which involves recommendations to get vaccinated and other measures to prevent infection. CDC states that it expects an increase in flu-related illness, once school starts, as it is often spread more rapidly in fall and winter.

Guidelines remind to keep up basic hygiene, including washing hands frequently. Anyone who has flu-like symptoms is advised to stay home for at least 1 day until fever has subsided.

Schools are advised to be prepared to address potential infection. Anyone who presents at school with flu-like symptoms should be isolated to a room separate from others until they are able to go home. School officials should have plans in place to allow students to maintain their curriculum while at home and away from the classroom through homework, Internet lessons or other methods. Additionally, there should be a back-up plan in place if school nurses should fall ill.

There is also a recommendation to screen students as they arrive at school and send sick ones home immediately. Even if another family member is sick, the guidance is to keep the other family members home as well for five days from the time the flu symptoms presented.