Child Care and K-12 Schools
Child care facilities and K-12 schools play an important part in protecting the health of their students, staff, and community. Since children are close together in child care facilities and schools, flu can spread very easily in those settings. Children are more likely than adults to get sick from the flu and spread it to others, including their families.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu. A vaccine is available each year for seasonal flu. A flu pandemic is an outbreak caused by a new flu virus that spreads worldwide. Since it is a new virus, it may take several months for manufacturers to develop a vaccine. Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including temporarily closing schools, can be effective in slowing the spread of flu.
Below are 10 steps administrators can take to help slow the spread of pandemic flu in child care facilities and schools through NPIs.
- Follow your local flu situation through close communication with state, tribal, local, and territorial public health officials.
- Encourage students, parents, and staff to get a seasonal flu vaccine and a pandemic flu vaccine as soon as they are available.
- Through education and the provision of supplies, encourage students, parents, and staff to take everyday preventive actions, including covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, staying home when sick, and cleaning surfaces and objects routinely.
- Separate sick students from well students, and send sick students home as soon as possible.
- Implement more flexible sick-leave policies that encourage students and staff to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members.
- Discourage the use of perfect attendance awards.
- Temporarily close child care facilities and schools to increase space between people (social distancing) when a pandemic is severe in terms of how quickly flu is spreading and how sick people are getting.
- Consider alternatives for providing continued learning and meals to students.
- Discourage students, parents, and staff from gathering in other places when schools are closed.
- If children and teenagers must be in groups, keep them in small groups, such as less than 6 people. Make sure groups consist of the same children each day.