Pandemic influenza (flu) starts when a new flu virus develops and begins to spread around the world. Right now, there is no pandemic flu. But experts believe the current virus that is now seen in birds (avian flu) could change into a virus that can be transferred from person to person. That may lead to a pandemic. There are steps that individuals, families, and communities (including schools) can and should take to prepare.
Schools must help protect the health and safety of staff and students. Experts believe that up to 30 percent of the population may be sick at the same time. When pandemic flu occurs, there will likely be NO VACCINE for the first six months of the pandemic, and anti-viral medication will be in very limited supply. To control the spread of illness, social distancing, such as closing schools and having people stay at home, will be the primary approach to preventing the spread of the flu virus. Schools may have to be closed for a few weeks to a month or more if there is an outbreak of flu in the area.
It is important for all schools and before and after school programs to communicate with and know the roles and policies of local agencies, such as the local health department and local office of emergency services. Both of these agencies will have important roles if there is a pandemic.
(Adapted from the California Department of Education’s Pandemic Flu Checklist for Local Educational Agencies in California, August 2006)
www.ReadyCaSchools.org The California Department of Health Services and California Department of Education site for pandemic influenza school preparedness.
California Department of Education Flu Prevention—Pandemic flu links, resources, and checklists
ED.gov, Emergency Planning—U.S. Department of Education site with comprehensive list of resources and links for pandemic emergency planning for schools
Emergency Planning—Information for building pandemic flu into your comprehensive emergency plan.
Pandemic Flu: A Planning Guide for Educators—Identifies issues to consider when planning for seasonal flu, a mild or moderate pandemic flu, or a severe pandemic.
Examples of State and Local Plans and Planning Efforts—A panel of experts identified examples of strong planning efforts and useful resources.
CDC Flu: Stop the Spread of Germs: Actions for Schools—Ways to prevent flu from spreading in schools.
Planning Checklists—Helps schools to create pandemic preparedness plans.
Pandemic Planning—Resources for Higher Education
Secretary Spellings’ letter to school districts—Asks local education agencies to create plans for a potential flu outbreak.
PandemicFlu.gov—Official U.S. Government web site with information on planning for individuals and families.
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan—The California Department of Health Services—plan offers detailed information on public health planning, preparedness, and interventions for pandemic influenza.
PandemicFlu.gov—One-stop access to all federal information related to pandemic and avian flu. Includes comprehensive information for community planning.
Center for Disease Control—Offers individual, community, and public health pandemic influenza information, resources, and links.
Pandemic Flu:Preparing and Protecting Against Avian Influenza —White House site, which includes the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.
Influenza Preparedness and You – Offers general information and resources about influenza.
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