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Schools take precaution against swine flu

Posted: August 10, 2009 8:51 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2009 8:00 a.m.
 
Before the new backpacks come out or the textbooks are handed around, local school officials already have a lesson for those soon to be back in the classroom: reduce the risk of spreading swine flu.

"As we enter the start of the traditional school year, the potential threat of spreading H1N1 increases," state Superintendent Jack O'Connell said in a statement.

The best way to avoid spreading the virus is to observe personal hygiene rules, officials agree.

Near the end of the 2008-09 school year, a Skyblue Mesa Elementary School student was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, which prompted the Saugus Union School District to notify Skyblue Mesa parents and disinfect the school.

Around the same time, a Sierra Vista Junior High School student and staff member were infected with the virus.

The Hart district, which starts school Thursday, keeps hand-sanitizer stations where students gather to eat lunch at all the junior high and high schools, said Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett said.

Custodians will be reminded to give extra care to doorknobs and commonly shared places, she said.

Students are able to bring individual bottles of hand sanitizer to school, Willett said.

The new school year typically means the beginning of flu season.

"Fall is our normal flu season," Willett said. "It's not unexpected that swine flu would be among the flu strains going on."

By advising students to wash hands and cover their mouths when coughing, school officials hope to keep the threat of the H1N1 virus minimal.

Federal guidelines advise students and staff to stay home when sick, separate ill students and staff, maintain routine school cleaning and enforce hygiene.

"These updated recommendations complement what we have been saying for years," O'Connell said. "If each of us remains vigilant and takes common-sense steps to prevent the spread of flu, then all of us will stay healthy and kids will stay in school ready to learn." O'Connell said.

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