What K-12 Administrators Should Know to Prevent the Flu
Children are at a high risk for developing the flu, so one of the best places to stop the spread of germs is at a school or daycare. Here's what schools can do to help children and staff stay healthy.
Source: Centers for Disease Control
Spotting the flu early can help reduce how fast it's spread and can help a sick child get to a doctor quickly. Look for body aches, chills, fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat. If a child is irritable, having trouble breathing, not getting enough fluids or has a rash, contact a doctor immediately.
A vaccine can be the single best defense against the flu viruses, and can be given to anyone over the age of six months. Flu shots are safe, effective, and have only minimal side effects. Consider even organizing a flu shot day to engage more children, parents and school staff.
Policies that make it harder for students to be absent, or believing symptoms aren't that serious, may lead parents to still bring their child in even when they may be sick. Advise students and parents to stay home until a fever has been gone for 24 hours. The school may want to also consider changing perfect-attendance polices that may add pressure to students to attend when they don't feel well.
Staff members may also feel pressure to come in to work due to strict attendance policies, which can put children and other staff at risk. Offering flexible sick leave, and cross training staff for coverage, may help them to stay home when sick.
Due to their sensitive systems, children with the flu are highly contagious. Sick children waiting to get picked up should sit in a designated area such as a section of a nurse’s or administrator's office. This can greatly reduce the spread of germs and allow a child to rest.
Help staff further reduce germs by offering disinfectants, and time during the day to clean desks, keyboards, learning items and doorknobs. Staff with younger children should also consider a set time for hand washing with children, and instruct them to scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
Bulletins can help inform parents about steps your institution is taking in flu prevention. You can also provide tips on what parents can do to reduce germs at home such as coughing or sneezing into a sleeve, disposing of tissues, and using no-touch trash cans.