Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 11 September 2009 00:00
The start of a new school year can bring excitement as well as anxiety, but this school year, it is also bringing a concern over the possibility of students and staff contracting the H1N1 or “Swine Flu” virus.
At Thursday evening’s Mineola Board of Education meeting, the Swine Flu was one of the topics of discussion. Mineola Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Nagler said a letter would be going out to parents in the mail with information on ways to prevent the virus from spreading. Schools can be particularly susceptible because of the number of children in a given area within the school buildings and the potential for spreading germs.
The Swine Flu took hold during the last school year and it remains a possibility that people will contract the virus during this school year. But don’t expect students and staff in the Mineola School District to be walking around with masks. Dr. Nagler explained that the district would be taking a practical approach to combating the spread of the disease, but students and staff need to go about their business of education in a normal way.
“We’re prepared. It’s hard not to be prepared, but we will have to deal with [some] children and staff members getting sick,” said Dr. Nagler, who noted that hand sanitizers and wipes will be placed throughout the schools in the district.
It’s natural that during the fall and winter months, some children and staff members will become “under the weather.” Yet, that doesn’t mean they have contracted Swine Flu. There is also the possibility that people can still contract the “Type A” flu or common colds or other maladies that normally come during the season.
There are, however, certain precautions that various health agencies are advocating such as children and staff washing their hands thoroughly. It is also highly recommended that if a student is not feeling well, he or she should stay home from school. Students should also practice respiratory hygiene when coughing or sneezing to reduce the risk of spreading germs.
There are various websites to provide information on the flu and precautions that can be taken. Those websites include:
Dr. John Clarke of Baldwin, the Long Island Rail Road’s medical director, has taken an interesting approach to providing information on preventing the spread of Swine Flu. Dr. Clarke created a hip-hop song on the virus as part of a federal contest for public service announcements. The video of Dr. Clarke’s song can be found on www.flu.gov. Once on the website, you can vote for Dr. Clarke’s song as the best public service announcement for the Swine Flu. Dr. Clarke is one of 10 finalists in the contest.
Dr. Clarke wanted to use his love for hip-hop music to help educate kids on precautions to halt the spread of the virus. “The whole idea is prevention, trying to prevent the spread [of the virus],” he said at the Mineola LIRR station.
Dr. Clarke said it’s a challenge to create something that kids will learn from and he believes a hip-hop song could be a tool to help keep children healthy. Dr. Clarke has written a total of 28 songs on topics such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and other health-related issues.