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.
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. The West Hempstead School District has posted information regarding the H1N1 virus on its website, www.westhempstead.k12.ny.us.
In a letter on the website, West Hempstead School Superintendent John Hogan states, “Please rest assured that as a school district, we will take all necessary precautions to keep our buildings clean and safe for all who use them. Hand sanitizers are available in varying locations throughout our buildings and, of course, soap and water may be utilized for cleanliness in all lavatories.”
The Sewanhaka Central High School District, which services students in the seventh through 12th grades, is also taking precautions. “We’re going to continue to stress good personal hygiene – washing hands as often as possible — and if you are sick, stay home,” said Superintendent of Schools Warren Meierdiercks, who added that the schools in the district would have wipes and towelettes available. “We’re going to watch it. We’re going to be vigilant, but the one thing we’re not going to do is overreact.”
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 and be fever free for at least 24 hours before returning to 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.