Tuesday, August 25, 2009

swine flu predictions worsen; is your school ready?

Word from a White House report says that 50% of Americans could contract H1N1 this coming autumn.
The virus, clinically called H1N1, could cause symptoms in 60 million to 120 million people, more than half of whom might seek medical attention, and could peak before a vaccine is widely available, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology estimated in an 86-page report assessing the government's response to the first influenza pandemic in 41 years.

Although most cases probably would be mild, up to 300,000 people could require intensive care, which could tie up all those beds in some parts of the country at the peak of the outbreak, the council said.
If it gets that bad, you know that schools will be hit hard. Education Secretary Arne Duncan offers recommendations:
Duncan said schools should evaluate what materials they have available for at-home learning. The latest guidance provides more details on methods schools could use, such as distributing recorded classes on podcasts and DVDs; creating take-home packets with up to 12 weeks of printed class material; or holding live classes via conference calls or "webinars."

Federal officials said earlier this month schools should close only as a last resort. They also advised that students and teachers can return to school or work 24 hours after their fever is gone; the old advice was to stay home for a week. The virus prompted more than 700 schools to temporarily close last spring.
Online school: a solution that was evident back in April--or sooner, for some.

Upodate 8/29: Some 200 students at Washington State University have reported sick, many potentially with swine flu. In a pattern we're seeing across the country, the flu seems to strike within a week or two of the start of classes.

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