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Schools issue flu warning letters for parents

Posted April 29, 2009

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— Public and private schools across the Triangle are sending information home to parents to raise awareness about swine flu and provide tips on keeping the disease in check.

Some schools in at least eight states have closed over swine flu fears, and President Barack Obama said Wednesday that more might have to close for several days to limit the spread of the disease. Texas has even canceled all high school athletic events for the next week and a half.

Schools urge hygiene among students

No swine flu cases had been confirmed in North Carolina so far, but school officials are passing along the same hygiene and common-sense tips they issue during the annual flu season.

"We talk about this all year long, not just now, because flu, colds and viruses go around all year long," Swift Creek Elementary School Principal Bob Umstead said. "We practice coughing into our sleeves instead of into our hands."

The Wake County school district posted a variety of information about swine flu on its Web site, including a list of viral symptoms.

Doreen Kelly, the head of Ravenscroft School, sent letters home Monday with the school's 1,200 students containing similar information and urging proper hygiene.

"The key in any sort of crisis scenario is that you maintain a sense of normalcy within your community," Kelly said. "(We wanted) to protect our kids and our faculty as well as educate them on important health and hygiene matters."

Both public and private schools in Wake County are following the lead of the county health department, which is mapping out strategies with state public health and education officials.

"If we were to have a confirmed case, then we would work very closely with the state (Division) of Public Health, (the state Department of Public Instruction) and our local school systems to figure out what is the most appropriate response," said Elizabeth Tilson, the county's interim community health director.

Tilson said closing a local school in the event of a confirmed case of swine flu "would not be an automatic response."


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