Status of our Preventive Efforts Regarding the Flu

29 October 2009

Dear Parent:

I am taking this opportunity to inform you of the ongoing status of our preventive efforts related to the increased instances of influenza and flu-like symptoms:

We continue dialogue between health providers, Pendleton Community Care, Holly See (PC Schools Health Nurse) and Pendleton County Department of Health to determine and adhere to best practices in relation to the disinfecting and sanitizing our school environments.
Calls are made daily to determine individual school absence, including both students and staff. While the numbers are certainly higher than usual, many parents have taken the option of keeping their healthy child home to decrease the risk of exposure.
We do not have on-site capabilities to determine whether a child actually has H1N1 virus or a case of seasonal flu; thus, we are treating all flu-like symptoms alike whether it is diagnosed as H1N1 or seasonal.
Our schools currently have had an outbreak of flu-like symptoms that seems to occur in certain classrooms or areas - for example, a classroom of students may become ill, either nauseated, diarrhea, or fevered. This is not the case, at this time, in the majority of our school environments.
We have instructed all staff to take the necessary precautions to assist us in keeping the spread of the germs, which include frequent hand washing, use of antibacterial hand sanitizers, cleaning with school-furnished antibacterial agents, covering mouths when coughing, and use of tissues to wipe noses.
Children who become ill at school will be sent home as quickly and safely as possible. The children will be isolated as safely as possible to lessen the potential spread but will continue to be monitored by an adult. I want to stress that the safety and welfare of the child is of utmost importance.
It is very important that children not be sent to school if they show flu-like symptoms, especially with a fever. Pendleton County Health Department, Pendleton Community Care and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that children stay home at least 24 hours after their fever has broken.
I have asked principals to instruct staff to show compassion and understanding toward students affected by the flu. Children will be responsible for all work missed but a somewhat lenient policy will be followed.
We have relaxed our attendance policy - your child will be marked excused with either: (1) the five parent notes you have available to you per semester; (2) after use of the five excuses, simply write a note explaining your child has flu-like symptoms or has the flu, and (3) presentation of a doctor's excuse that automatically excuses the child.

We are closely following attendance patterns and diagnosis of illnesses. Following CDC and Health Department guidelines are all procedures we adhere to in our everyday practices. Our sanitization efforts have become the priority in all our schools. Foggers and Clorox hand wipes are used daily.

Here are a few things you can do to help:
As mentioned earlier, if your child is sick, keep him or her home.
Make sure your emergency contact information is current at your child's school. It is amazing the number of times we have attempted to reach parents or custodians and conclude that we have not been told about a wrong or changed number.
Stress to your child the importance of practicing good hygiene to help combat the spread of the virus, especially keeping fingers away from the face.
Be positive in your talks with your children - children pick up quickly when adults exhibit anxiety and stress. We are all about protecting our most precious resource, our children, but we also have a duty and obligation to keep things as normal as possible.
In conclusion, the health and safety of the entire community has been prioritized presently as it is in all situations. Please feel free to contact your school or my office if you have any additional concerns or questions. More information can be found at the WVDE Web site.

Douglas S. Lambert, Superintendent
Pendleton County Schools