Schools prepare for possible Swine Flu outbreak

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | e-mail | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Many parents across the valley are concerned for their children if the Swine Flu makes its way into schools. News Leader Nine found out what Muscogee County schools plan to do in the event of an outbreak.

The Muscogee County School District works closely with the health department when it comes to identifying clusters of illnesses.

Communications Director for MCSD, Valerie Fuller said, "Any decisions we make would be made as a team. We do have a crisis team in place in the Muscogee County School District and we would handle it based on our preparedness plan."

School nurses and volunteers in the county have all been briefed to prepare for a possible swine flu outbreak.

"They are well-educated in identifying symptoms in children and if they see an increase they'll be on the phone with a nurse or me and we can address the situation," MCSD Lead Nurse, Darlene Shirley told News Leader Nine.

Private schools in the area are also taking precautions when it comes to the health of students.

Headmaster of Brookstone, Scott Wilson added, "We know we had some families travel to Cancun during Spring Break but they passed that incubation period, so we are in good shape there."

All school officials want to stress the importance of washing hands and staying safe.

Shirley said, "Right now we have not seen an increase in the number of children with those symptoms but we are monitoring that closely."

Columbus private schools and Muscogee County schools are sending out notices to parents this evening encouraging them to use caution, and reassuring them the school system is on top of the Swine Flu, if a situation does occur.

Brookstone School's release said: "Like the rest of the nation, we are closely monitoring the status of the spread of Swine Flu through the Health Department and the Center for Disease Control. You are probably also aware that a case of Swine Flu has been confirmed in Troup County. Please know that the school is exercising an abundance of caution (and precaution) related to Swine Flu, and we solicit your full cooperation. It is important to remember that there have been few hospitalizations and one death reported as a result of this strain of influenza in the United States. Further, no student or staff member has been reported ill from this strain of flu."

The Muscogee County School District sent a Connect-ED message to parents saying: "This is Director of Communications, Valerie Fuller, for the Muscogee County School District calling with an important, proactive health communications notice to parents, guardians, and employees from the Muscogee County School District. There are several reports in the media that reference health concerns about flu viruses that have surfaced in the United States. Our health and crisis communications team is in constant consultation with the Public Health Department about potential health issues that could impact our students, employees and community. We encourage preventive measures such as frequent hand-washing with soap and water. Children or employees who may suffer from illness, such as flu symptoms, are encouraged to seek medical attention and to stay home to prevent the spread of germs. Parents are also encouraged to pre-plan for daycare in the event that we must close a school. Of course, we will notify you. Please access our website for more information, In addition, remember we will contact you by Connect-ED as necessary."