Educators share H1N1 preparedness plans

The district was closed only for a short period of time, but Rowe said preparation for another possible closure remains comprehensive.

“We continue to develop staff distance-learning skills and digitize our business process,” he said. District personnel are working on locally developed online resources, including teacher web pages, and are leveraging the internal Moodle infrastructure and student portal. (Moodle is a free, open-source online learning management system for schools and colleges.)

In addition, the district has a set of laptops that it uses to provide home services for homebound students, and Rowe said he is examining how those might come in handy if students must stay home owing to H1N1 infection.

Administrators with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which has 670 schools and more than 400,000 students, are monitoring student health on a daily basis, sending H1N1 information packets to principals and parents, and giving all schools kits with hand sanitizers, tissues, thermometers, and face masks.

Robert Runcie, chief administrative officer, said CPS produces a daily health report from its student information system that examines absence patterns and suspected H1N1 cases. If a large number of students are absent in any school, CPS officials will call parents of students in that school and log those absences into an H1N1 database.

“Just based on the volume of students, we can’t, as a district, vaccinate all our students, but we’re working in partnerships with other health agencies to arrange vaccinations as needed,” Runcie said.

School nurses and students who are pregnant or have medical concerns, such as diabetes and asthma, will be vaccinated, he said.

Some schools have experience implementing disaster plans as a result of hurricanes, school shootings, and any number of unplanned events.

Laura Ascione

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