Flu Update

We are receiving lots of telephone calls and inquiries about student illness across the district.  Similar to snow days, I will attempt to describe the process we are following and how we will share information. There were guidelines sent to school districts at the start of the year that we are following (fall2009guidance).  Unlike last year, the state is encouraging school districts to keep schools open as long as they can function.  Closing schools has not helped to stop the spread of the flu. We are collecting student absentee DATA daily and comparing this DATA with last year.  Our plan is to post these numbers on the district website.  There are several important caveats regarding this information.

1.  We have no way of knowing how many of the absences are due to H1N1.

2.  We have no way of knowing how many of the absences are due to parents being protective – that is a decision each parent has to make and they do not necessarily consult with the school department before making that decision.

 3.  We have no way of knowing whether there are students who are in school despite having H1N1 or any other communicable illness.

4. If a child has been diagnosed with H1N1 then the child should stay out of school until such time as he/she has recovered and is no longer contagious; however, ultimately it is up to each parent in consultation with their doctor to decide what is best for their child.

In regards to the decision to close a school, I am looking more toward faculty absences as a determining factor.  If the buildings can function, we will hold school.  If the number of faculty absences reaches a point where principals feel that they can no longer effectively and safely manage the student population, then we will consider closing in consultation with the Burlington and State Departments of Health.

My intentions are to share as much factual information as possible to allow parents to make informed decisions about their children.  There will be some judgement calls regarding school closings.  I intend to work with health professionals in the district, town, and state to inform these decisions.  We are working on the logistics of posting the student absentee DATA.  The information should be posted by 12:00 PM for that day.  Our plan is to start having this information regularly available starting Monday. 

If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to let me know.

4 thoughts on “Flu Update

  1. Patricia

    Thanks for the update. I have a question regarding the closing of a school in the event of signficant faculty absence. Will it be announced like a snow day cancellation? In the event that say 15 teachers call in to Fox Hill at 7am and there isn’t enough coverage to manage the building/students will we get a call cancelling school? or will the determination be made say early in the day even if all the students are there and the school is in a position to have to close the school early for early release? or will it be more like, one day you get all those calls – the building gets through the day, but because it’s likely to be more than one day, the next day is cancelled???? Thanks!
    Of course, I am hoping and praying that all of our teachers, school staff, and their families stay healthy and immune!

    Reply
    1. burlingtonps Post author

      Patricia, My understanding is that closing for the flu will be significantly different from snow in that, as you stated, closing for one day will not be much help. I also think the onset of the decision would be more gradual than a snow storm. I would imagine that a possible scenario would be that we cross a point where it is becoming unreasonable for us to manage a school for flu related reasons. I would then consult with the state and town health departments. If closing school was recommended by public health officials, then I would make the decision for the next day or the next following days. The number of days would be determined by flu experts and not me, although I would be responsible for the decision. Like you, I hope that everyone stays healthy so that I do not have to make this decision. Eric Conti

      Reply
  2. Cathy Hofferty

    Hi Dr. Conti:

    I just have a follow up to Patricia’s question. If you were to need to close down because of the flu, would you be able to close only those affected schools or do you have to close all 6 schools in the district (due to contractual reasons)?

    Reply
    1. burlingtonps Post author

      Cathy, I think I could close only those schools that were unable to function. Obviously, closing individual schools causes problems with the district calendar. If any closings occur because of flu, I will share my reasoning for the decisions that are made. Similar to snow days, there is never any way to please everyone with this type of decision. Thank you for your comment. Eric Conti

      Reply

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