Central Ohio Schools Review Health Emergency Plans

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Schools around Central Ohio are getting out their handbooks for what to do in the event of a pandemic health emergency. WOSU spoke with several school systems to find out what measures they’re taking as swine flu seems to be making its way into central Ohio.

It’s been in the works for a couple of years -a plan for a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease. Now Columbus, Westerville and Southwestern City Schools are reviewing the plans. Part of that preparation is to remind parents and teachers of the flu’s symptoms – similar to seasonal human flu and telling parents to leave sick kids at home.

Southwestern spokesperson Sandy Nekoloff said the system is referring to the state department’s pandemic flu toolkit as a guide for its schools. She said school nurses are logging office visits.

“We’re monitoring all of our buildings for increased incidences of some of the different symptoms of the swine flu,” she said.

Columbus City Schools has taken it a bit further. Spokesperson Kim Norris said the system is reporting some fevers to the local health officials.

“Because of the flu outbreak we are reporting a fever of 101.5 [degrees] and over immediately to the Columbus health department and staying in constant contact with the health department, and obviously at the state level and CDC level also,” Norris said.

All of these school systems say they are following their regular cleaning and disinfecting schedules. Westerville’s spokesperson Greg Viebran said, “But if we do get the sense that this needs to increase we will certainly be prepared to do that.”

None of the schools report an increase of absenteeism in light of the recent outbreak of the swine flu in the U-S and Mexico. President Obama suggests schools close if they have swine flu infections. The Ohio Department of Education recommends individual schools close for a week if a student becomes infected; the closure could be longer if more than one person is affected.