The Jackson County School System had its first confirmed case of the H1N1 virus Thursday evening, and will be taking the following precautions to keep teachers, staff and students healthy:
- Educate and encourage students and staff to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and provide them with easy access to tissues and running water and soap or alcohol-based hand cleaners. Remind them to cover with their elbows, not their hands, when a tissue is not available.
- Remind teachers, staff and students to practice good hand hygiene and provide the time and supplies for them to wash as often as necessary.
- Send sick students, teachers and staff home and advise them and their families that they should stay at home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
- Clean surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact such as desks, door knobs, keyboards or pens.
- Move students, teachers and staff to a separate room if they become sick at school until they can be sent home. Limit the number of staff who take care of the sick person and provide a surgical mask for the sick person to wear.
- Have personal protective equipment such as masks available and ensure that the equipment is worn by school nurses caring for sick people at school.
- Encourage early medical evaluation for sick students and staff at higher risk of complications from the flu. People at higher risk of flu complications who get sick will benefit from early treatment with antiviral medicines.
ATHENS — The Jackson County School System had its first confirmed case of the H1N1 flu Thursday at Kings Bridge Middle School, and the system is taking precautions to prevent more students from getting the virus.
According to a Thursday news release, Principal Debra Morris found out about the confirmed case Thursday and asked the custodial staff to "conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire building consistent with the recommendations of public health officials."
Custodians cleaned the building early Friday morning before students arrived, concentrating on the wing where the sick student was and all surfaces that students touch the most, such as keyboards and doorknobs.
"It was a significant task for them to complete in the time that they did," Superintendent Shannon Adams said of the custodians’ work.
All school nurses in the school system were informed of the flu case and met with Adams and Steven Dumpert, Regional Risk Communicator with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, to discuss how to handle the virus.
School officials are instructed to keep sick students, teachers and staff in a separate room until they can be sent home, limit the number of staff who take care of the sick person and provide a surgical mask for the sick person to wear if they can tolerate it, the release noted.
"We will collaborate to diligently monitor the situation, and if additional precautions should become advisable, we will proceed accordingly," Adams said.
The H1N1 virus is a new strain of influenza that showed up in the U.S. in April, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site, www.cdc.gov.
The first case of H1N1 in the Northeast Health District, which covers 10 counties around Athens including Jackson, came in June when a 15-year-old female resident of Barrow County experienced mild flu-like symptoms and was confirmed to have that strain of influenza.
The sample was collected at a personal physician’s office in Oconee County on June 23, and the girl is now fully recovered, a July 2 news release from the Northeast Health District noted.