Socorro schools brace for potential flu outbreak
Recent swine flu outbreaks in New Mexico school districts has school officials and parents scrambling to ensure students remain safe.
To that end, Socorro school board members devoted a portion of their Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting to discuss preventive measures the district is implementing.
Socorro Consolidated Schools Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Wilson reported that local measures include keeping school liquid soap and liquid hand sanitizers filled, cleaning door knobs and light switches on a more frequent basis. Having trained nurses teach students how to minimize the spread of germs when coughing is also a big priority.
The SCS nursing staff will also schedule a public meeting to address how the district is dealing with flu season this year.
Wilson said she’s concerned with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu (aka swine flu) in other school districts and would like to share how the district is planning to deal with flu season.
Wilson also said the district will not close schools without justification.
“The decision to close schools will be a local decision,” explained Wilson.
School Board President Tommy Gonzales confirmed that the board was concerned for the health of the district’s students. However, he advised parents to take proper health precautions and not to be overly concerned or panic.
“We’re not going to close the schools just because someone has the sniffles,” Gonzales said.
SCS Associate Super-intendent Anton Salome said the district could inoculate students against the flu in the near future if the direction comes from the Public Education Department and the Department of Health.
“We have the resources in collaboration with the Emergency Response Team from City of Socorro,” said Salome.
The school district is planning to send out a series of letters to parents regarding how the district is dealing with the flu season. The first letter, which was sent out Friday, Aug. 28, confirmed that the district was doing everything in its power to keep schools up and running smoothly during flu season.
The letter touched on teaching children the importance of hand washing, teaching children not to share personal items and to cover their coughs and sneezes, and keeping sick children home.
Wilson advises parents to keep sick children at home for 24 hours after they no longer have a fever. Additional letters may be sent out if there is an increase in the spread of flu.
Flu updates are posted on the district’s Web site at: www.socorro.k12.nm.us.
Flu symptoms can often be confused with the common cold. Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site states that important symptoms to look for when trying to recognize the flu are a sudden fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches and respiratory symptoms. Doctors are able to administer tests to patients with flu-like symptoms within a few days of their occurrence.
Vaccinations for the common flu are available now through the Department of Health. H1N1-specific vaccinations will be available at a future date, also through the Department of Health. Vaccinations for the common flu will not help prevent people from catching the H1N1 flu.
For the most current information about the flu contact the CDC toll-free at 800-CDC-INFO, or visit the Web site www.flu.gov.