Contrary to what you might hear at football practice, at parent meetings or in church groups, there are no confirmed cases of the swine flu in Brevard County’s 94 public schools, district officials said Thursday.
The district also is not seeing any increase in absences this school year.
“We know swine flu is in the county, and it’s going to be in our schools,” said Betty Dunn, assistant superintendent for student services. “All we can do is teach preventative measures.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised schools to remain open even if they have confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu.
Schools will be investigated or shut down only when the outbreak affects the learning environment.
But there is no specific number of cases it would take to prompt the health department to temporarily close a school.
Schools are drilling children in washing their hands and using hand sanitizer. For example, students are being taught to thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. They are told to sing “Happy Birthday” twice before they stop.
If children are showing symptoms, they will be sent home, district officials said. Students should stay home for 24 hours after symptoms have subsided without using any kind of fever-reducing medication, said Pam Hamilton, school health coordinator.
“Parents cannot just give their child Tylenol and send them to school,” Hamilton said. “That’s not going to cut it, and they can still spread the illness.”
According to a report released this week by the White House, swine flu could infect nearly 2 million people and cause up to 90,000 deaths, though the CDC disputed those estimates.
Young people such as infants and children, as well as pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic illnesses have a special risk of serious complications.
Other experts said the effects could be milder than those of the common flu.
School officials also said they likely will offer two types of vaccinations to students this year.
The first is the common flu vaccination. It will be offered for free to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. After parental permission is obtained, the inoculations will be performed at the school. The effort is paid for through federal stimulus dollars and likely will take place in early October.
The school district plans to work with the health department to use some schools to administer swine flu shots. The vaccination, however, has not yet been made available to the public.
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