Summit schools brace for swine flu |

Summit schools brace for swine flu

summit daily news

Returning to school marks a fresh start: new teachers, advanced curriculum, cool clothes — and the flu?

According to The Denver Post, kids in Denver and Jefferson County are already sick with what — likely the highly contagious H1N1 swine flu. Deb Crook, the director of the Summit County Public Health Department, also confirmed possible cases of H1N1 flu in Summit County, so she’s stressing vigilance when dealing with sick children and adults in the community.

a€œRight now, there hasn’t been any testing at the definitive level,” Crook said. a€œPeople are getting rapid flu tests at the doctor’s office to determine if they have the flu. The state health department is not testing people who are ill with flu, but only those who are hospitalized.

“It’s easy to spread this disease if someone is sick, coughing and actively having symptoms,” she said.

Last month the Obama administration began urging schools to stay open while dealing with the swine flu, a change from springtime when schools closed at the first sign of H1N1. The change in policy is based on the fact that the disease has not proved to be as virulent as once feared, Crook said.

a€œThere is potential that the virus can change, but right now it’s looking to have symptoms and virulence similar to the seasonal flu,” she said.

So, the Summit School District is focused on preventative measures, like hand-washing and having kids and staff stay home at the first sign of illness.

We’re just really focused on prevention, making sure w’re practicing good hygiene,” said Julie McCluskie, the climate and communications coordinator for the Summit School District.

McCluskie said all school buildings have health clinics, but it’s only a place kids can be until parents are able to pick them up.

a€œWe are understanding of our working families, parents that have jobs during the day, but it’s our responsibility to isolate students that are ill and send them home when kids clearly shouldn’t be at school” she said.

Crook said this flu season will likely be a bad one, so she hopes adults will take responsibility for themselves too by not going into work while they’re ill.

a€œIt will make a difference with how many people become sick,” she said.

To prevent illness, Crook also suggested using tissues and throwing them away, wiping down surfaces used by a lot of people and distancing oneself from someone who is coughing.

The Denver Post contributed

to this story.

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