While the flu season has just begun, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already ranked the state of Louisiana as the worst state in the nation for influenza activity. While you should encourage your student’s parents to obtain their children’s annual influenza vaccines, not all parents may choose to vaccinate their children.
In addition, the influenza vaccine is not as foolproof as many people suspect. In fact, the influenza vaccine only reduces a healthy person’s chance of contracting influenza by about 60 percent during the average flu season. There are many influenza strains, and experts predict the strains that will be circulating during the upcoming flu season when creating that season’s vaccine. However, if additional strains are circulating, even people who have obtained their flu vaccinations can catch them.
To prevent the spread of influenza in your school this flu season, read on to learn three tips to help avoid the spread of influenza in your school.
1. Urge Parents to Keep Students at Home When Ill
Throughout history, teachers have urged children and parents to strive for perfect attendance during the school year. Many schools even hand out perfect attendance awards at the end of the year. Encouraging children to attend school every day is a good idea, in theory, to ensure children do not miss important school lessons that may lead to them having to play catch up later when they do return to the classroom.
However, awarding children for perfect school attendance has become controversial due to the fact that these awards unintentionally encourage children to attend school when ill. Unfortunately, when just one child with influenza attends school due to a desire to earn this award, this child can infect many others and begin an entire flu epidemic in your school.
Consider discontinuing the perfect attendance award at your school altogether this year and instead encourage parents to keep students at home when ill, especially if they are showing signs of influenza.
2. Encourage Good Hand Hygiene
The influenza virus is spread when droplets of infected body fluids released when sneezing or coughing spread from person to person. While some of these droplets released into the air from a student infected with influenza may directly pass into another student’s nose or mouth, the influenza virus is more often spread in more indirect ways.
The indirect spread of the flu virus often occurs when a child coughs or sneezes into a hand, touches a surface with that hand, and another student then touches that surface.
To prevent the spread of influenza in your school, provide every student with a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep with them at their desks. Instruct students showing no signs of illness to use the hand sanitizer several times each day, and instruct students who are sneezing and/or coughing to use it after they cough in their hands or blow their noses. Hand sanitizer can kill the influenza virus on a child’s hands before the child touches and contaminates a surface with the virus.
3. Sanitize All Classroom Surfaces Properly When Each School Day Ends
While your staff members may be eager to perform other tasks or go home at the end of a long school day, encourage them to sanitize all hard surfaces in their classrooms at the end of each school day. The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours or longer. Soft surfaces do not need to be sanitized since the flu virus typically survives on these surfaces for only a few minutes.
An easy, affordable sanitizing solution that kills the flu virus can be made by combining just 1/2-cup of bleach mixed with one gallon of hot water. Have your staff wipe all classroom desks, tables, chairs, and door handles with this solution at the end of each school day to kill any flu virus particles that may be lingering on them.
The flu season has hit the state of Louisiana especially hard. Follow these tips to avoid the spread of influenza in your school and contact Advanced Office Care for all of your school cleaning needs.