Wednesday, September 30, 2009
H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic
Be informed, watch this interview! Steve Hilley Infection Prevention and Hospital Prepardeness Coordinator from the Yampa Valley Medical Center helps to clear the air about the H1N1 Flu Pandemic.
Steamboat Springs School district officials said 151 of Steamboat Springs Middle School's 497 students were called in sick or sent home Tuesday.
With 30 percent of students absent, the Steamboat Springs School District reached a threshold it established to discuss closing the school. Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said district officials don't think the absences at the middle school were a H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak. Like Monday, when 133 students were home sick from the middle school, students missed classes because of a variety of illnesses Tuesday. Reported illnesses included flu, strep throat, fever, sinus and bronchial infections, and head and chest colds.
Principal Tim Bishop said parents called in 85 students sick Tuesday morning. He said by the end of the day, 66 more were sent home. Bishop said the school is being more proactive about sending kids home if they complain of feeling ill or exhibit any symptoms.
Cunningham said district officials will meet Friday with the countywide swine flu group that began meeting last fall. That group includes representatives of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Routt County Emergency Management, Colorado Mountain College's Alpine campus, and the superintendents of Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts. Until Friday's meeting, Cunningham said, the district would continue to monitor the absentee rate at the middle school.
"I worry every day, but I don't think closing schools is the solution for us," she said, adding that such a measure had little success nationwide last year when the spread of swine flu made news across the country.
In his 11 years at the middle school, Bishop said, Tuesday was the highest number of students absent at one time.
"I don't know what it means because the normal flu we get each year, we've not even begun to enter that season yet," he said. "So I'm definitely curious and wary of the winter months to see how this works out."
Bishop added that the school is being more vigilant in its efforts to curb the spread of illness. Staff members are encouraging students to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer frequently, are sanitizing doorknobs and railings and have begun looking at the ventilation system, he said.
And with only 11 of the 39 seventh-grade football players at school Tuesday, and the coach home sick, the after school game was canceled, Bishop said. He said the eighth-grade team played with only 12 players.
Bishop said the school has been fortunate with only two teachers absent Tuesday. He expects to see the same number today.
Cunningham said that while the countywide group initially set the 30 percent threshold for entire districts, not individual schools, members will apply the threshold specifically to Steamboat Springs Middle School given the number of absent students.
Until Monday, Cunningham said the middle school's absentee average was between 4 and 5 percent, typical for this time of year. She said the absentee rate at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools and Steamboat Springs High School was slightly elevated, at about 8 percent.