We will keep you regularly informed regarding the H1N1 influenza through our building and District newsletters. All information will also be posted on our website, which will be updated frequently. The basic guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the State and County Health Departments regarding how to lessen the spread of this flu remain the same. Students and staff should frequently wash hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. When coughing or sneezing, mouth and nose should be covered and, if a tissue is not available, children and adults should cough or sneeze into their sleeves/elbows.
In addition, our building staff is continuing with a rigorous cleaning process and also frequently wiping commonly used surfaces such as walls, bathrooms and doorknobs during the school day. In addition, communally-touched items, such as computer keyboards in the lab, are wiped down in between each student use and hand sanitizer is also available.
It is very important that you do not send your child to school if they are sick. Guidelines for when students can return to school after the first symptoms have changed. Where last year Health Department guidelines had students staying home for seven days after a fever subsided before they could return to school, this year the guidelines have been changed. Students can now return to school 24 hours after the fever has subsided with no fever-reducing medication or Tamiflu taken. These changes in guidelines should overall help with attendance. Last year, many students were well but still needed to stay home the full seven days as per the Centers for Disease Control guidance at that time.
Though we understand that it may be a hardship for working parents to have a child at home, not sending children to school when they are sick and can potentially spread the flu virus is crucial to minimizing the spread of the disease and, ultimately, minimizing the interruption to learning of all Valley Stream 30 students. Since the time children now have to remain home is shortened, the hardship should be less, and I urge each and every family in our Valley Stream 30 community to err on the side of caution and not send a child to school with any symptom of the flu. In any event, the nurse will have to send sick children home, immediately, anyway, and by then the child with symptoms may already have further spread the infection to others, which will, ultimately, only prolong the time that the entire school program is impacted.
Fortunately, H1N1 virus remains, presently, primarily a mild illness. The health departments caution that certain individuals, however, with certain underlying health conditions, may be at serious risk of complications with H1N1. People with such health conditions, which include those listed below, should contact their health care provider for general recommendations and specific actions.
• Children less than five years old and, most particularly, those under two
• Adults over 65 years of age
• Chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
• Immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV
• Pregnant women
• Persons younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
Frequently updated information on H1N1 can be found at www.flu.gov.