Sep 04 2009

Be Aware and Prepare For H1N1

By Lisa Garner

Like many of us during the summer months, you want to make like a bear and hibernate. As a result, you spend the first few weeks of summer break wandering around in your pajamas, curling up with a good book, sipping on a refreshing summer beverage, and hopefully getting out of town for a few days on vacation. Then one morning, you suddenly catapult out of bed in a cold sweat screaming, “OMG, I only have 10 more days of summer vacation, and I haven’t finished writing my lesson plans for next year!”

Although the goal of summer vacation is to lose touch with reality, relax, and re-establish your sanity, you may not be quite as up to date on current events as you would be otherwise. So while you were “sleeping,” the school year has started and the swine flu, formally known as the H1N1 virus, is circulating. Now more than ever, we need to educate our parents and students on the benefits of establishing proper eating habits, exercising regularly, and good personal hygiene.

As teachers, we spend ten months out of the year operating on sleep deprivation and carbohydrates in addition to dodging more germs than bad drivers on the freeway. When we get run down or stressed out, we get sick, and so do our students. This year, flu infected summer camps have reminded health officials that when kids get in close proximity to one another and are not schooled in proper hygiene, the virus spreads.

Since there is no vaccine ready to protect against the spread of swine flu, school leaders and public health officials are urging educators to know the facts about the H1N1 virus and assist their students in establishing good personal hygiene habits and exercising a little common sense.

Here’s how to keep you and your students healthy during this school year:

Learn and apply the basics of good nutrition and exercise.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.

Cover a cough in the crux of your elbow and NOT into your hand. You might also cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Don’t shake hands.

Avoid close contact with sick people.

Know the symptoms associated with the swine flu and alert a teacher or parent if you feel sick.

Although most school health offices will be sending home information about the signs and symptoms associated with the swine flu, teachers should also urge parents to keep their child home from school if they are sick with any of the following symptoms: a fever of more than 100 degrees, lethargy, poor appetite, coughing, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The CDC recommends that people with the flu remain home for a minimum of 24 hours after they are fever-free without the help of a fever-reducing medication.

School administrators are also urging educators to be prepared for a possible school closing. In the event your school does shut down due to the virus, teachers should have a minimum of 5 days worth of emergency lessons available for their students to complete during their absence.

Please remember that awareness is the first line of defense, so prepare your students and parents well by providing them with the right information and tools necessary to reduce the spread of the H1N1 virus and other diseases this school year.

Please look at the article, “Be Prepared for the Flu of 2009” by Graehm Gray in the parents section of The Nerdel News and for more information, visit the CDC.gov.

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Posted in: Teacher To Teacher