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Ref: Pandemic preparedness at Illinois schools

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Guide Outlines Flu Preparedness for Illinois Schools


By News Release
Dec 14, 2006
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a new guide for Illinois schools that provides them the tools they need to proactively plan and prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) jointly prepared the School Guidance During an Influenza Pandemic document.

"We need to prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak at every level," said Blagojevich. "Earlier this year, we tested our state's ability to respond to a pandemic flu outbreak. We need to make sure our schools are ready too. School administrators would face challenges like determining when to require sick students, teachers and staff to stay home or when to close their schools. This guide will help them prepare for these kinds of decisions," Blagojevich continued.

The School Guidance During an Influenza Pandemic includes school action steps, a pandemic planning checklist, public health instructions, fact sheets about pandemic flu versus seasonal flu, and sample letters schools can send to parents to keep them informed during a pandemic.

"We've included in this guide basic information about stopping the spread of germs so people know some of the steps they can take to help stave off pandemic flu and reduce its spread," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. "There is also information in the guide about monitoring and documenting the number of students and staff who are absent with influenza-like-illness. Keeping track of absenteeism will help officials determine when and whether to close schools and track the progress of the disease in the community."

In the case of a pandemic, any decision for an emergency school closing should be made by the local district with consultation, or at the direction, of the local health department, emergency management agency and Regional Office of Education.

The School Guidance During an Influenza Pandemic is the result of work by a subcommittee of the Pandemic Flu Work Group created to address things such as personal protective equipment, alternate care facilities and antiviral/vaccine prioritization. The Pandemic Flu Work Group continues to work on creating additional documents addressing these issues.

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