Since August 20, the government has been churning out all types of guidance – for businesses, health care facilities and now more recommendations for schools. Do you have children going to school this fall?  If so, you need to be familiar with the new recommendations issued today. This guidance is just in time.  Don’t be a passive parent this fall…get involved in your school and find out about their pandemic plans.  Take this health threat very seriously.

The Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the District of Columbia Public Schools officials joined with business leaders from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Scholastic Inc., Pearson, Curriki, and the International Association for Online Learning to announce new recommendations for continuity of learning in the event of students absences or school closures due to seasonal or novel H1N1 flu.

When Children Return To School This Fall, H1N1 Outbreaks Are Very Likely
When Children Return To School This Fall, H1N1 Outbreaks Are Very Likely

The Affected Age Group – 6 Months – 24 Years

The recommendations crafted by the Department of Education are designed to help education administrators to prepare now for the impact that seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza could have this fall and winter on schools and the learning process.  Government officials are especially concerned about the impact of H1N1 in schools because the virus appears to spread quickly among younger Americans. The Centers for Disease Control’s DC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently found that younger Americans, specifically children ages 6 months to 24 years, are one of the top priority groups when it comes to the new H1N1 vaccine.

Common Sense Approach

The recommendations are based around keeping healthy by practicing prevention, close monitoring and using common sense. A priority is being placed on keeping well students in school and making sure that those who become ill, don’t fall behind.”   The recommendations suggest that educators prepare take-home assignments in advance for distribution to affected students and use the Internet and telephones to post homework materials, conduct classes, share information and keep teachers, parents and students in close touch.

Remote Learning Will Help Keep A Child From Getting Behind - For It To Work, It Needs To Be Planned Now
Remote Learning Will Help Keep A Child From Getting Behind - For It To Work, It Needs To Be Planned Now

The departments are working Google, Apple, Microsoft, Scholastic Inc., Pearson, Curriki, the International Association for Online Learning and other private sector partners, and service providers to make continuity of learning resources like pre-printed lesson plans, conference call services, webinar support, podcasting, and virtual classrooms more affordable and accessible for educators.

Two helpful handouts with good links and information is available by clicking on:


The new guidance for colleges and universities is chock full of helpful things…the guidance includes a communication toolkit, posters, text message suggestions, draft template letters and good guidelines.  This age group is one that is hit particularly hard by this illness and of course this is the age group that thinks that they are invincible.  Parents will need to play an active role in ensuring their college age kids stay healthy this fall.

The guidance is in two forms…Plan A and B.

Plan A – During Current Flu Condition

  • Advise sick students, faculty, and staff to stay at home or in their residence until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
    Keep Kids At Home With A Fever Over 100 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Keep Kids At Home With A Fever Over 100 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Establish a method for maintaining contact with students who are sick. If resources permit, student affairs staff, housing staff or health care providers could be assigned to make daily contact with each student.
  • Encourage students and staff at higher risk of complications from flu to check with their health care provider about their options.  People at higher risk of flu complications who get sick will benefit from early treatment with antiviral medicines.
  • Encourage students, faculty, and staff to find out if they should get vaccinated against seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu. Institutions should also consider offering opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated on campus for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.
  • Discourage sick members of the public and sick visitors from attending institution-sponsored events until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours.
  • Encourage students and staff to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. Also, provide them with easy access to tissues and running water and soap or alcohol-based hand cleaners.  Remind them to cover coughs or sneezes using their elbow or shoulder instead of their hands when a tissue is not available.
  • Establish regular schedules for frequent cleaning of surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact such as desks, door knobs, keyboards, or counters, with cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas. Promote frequent cleaning of bathrooms and ensure adequate supplies of soap and paper towels.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces such as chairs, remote controls, and keyboards shared by students can be wiped down prior to each use.
  • Encourage students to frequently clean their living quarters. Students living together should frequently clean commonly-used surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, and countertops.

Plan B – If The Flu Conditions Are MORE Severe, Consider Adding The Following Steps

College Students Attend A Class In Labor Law Wearing Masks To Protect Against The Swine Flu Contagion, At Mexico City's University Of London May 2009
College students attend a class in labor law wearing masks to protect against the swine flu contagion, at Mexico City's University of London May 2009
  • Allow students, faculty, and staff at higher risk for complications to stay home.  These students, faculty, and staff should make this decision in consultation with their health care provider. Try to come up with ways for work or study to continue from home.
  • Find ways to increase social distances (the space between people) in classrooms such as moving desks farther apart, leaving empty seats between students, holding outdoor classes, and using distance learning methods.
  • Extend the time sick students, faculty, or staff stay home or in their residence to at least 7 days, even if they feel better sooner. Those who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone away. Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • Consider how and when to suspend classes by working closely with your local and state public health officials. The length of time classes should be suspended depends on your goal for suspending classes and the severity and extent of illness.

Check out the many different tools in the Higher Ed Tool Kit by clicking on: