According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), flu activity is increasing across the state. With flu season typically peaking in January or February, organizations should be mindful of best practices for flu prevention and mitigation.
The flu virus affects people to varying degrees, and it can impact children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems particularly hard.
Schools must have procedures in place to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for their students. School districts and other educational entities should also have a plan for the continuity of essential functions and services through a sustained period of significant employee absenteeism.
Key components of a school-based health program include a public health and medical plan that outlines the promotion of vaccines; individual and school-wide infection control measures; and processes to contain, manage, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. These plans and procedures should be developed in collaboration with public health officials who can support the program by tracking diseases and recommending infection control measures.
The TASB Risk Management Fund (Fund) has a variety of resources to aid schools in the development of public health and medical strategies to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases such as the flu.
Throughout flu season, which lasts from late fall through early spring, it is important to take the following steps to help protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff:
- Stay Informed: Continue collaboration with local and regional public health official for local flu statistics. It also is important to look to state and federal resources; the DSHS provides guidance and support throughout flu season. There is also a list of flu resources on the CDC website.
- Get Vaccinated: Encourage students, faculty, staff, and parents to protect themselves and others by getting their annual flu vaccination.
- Stop the Spread: Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap and/or use hand sanitizer. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home when sick and have a plan to care for sick family members at home. Encourage students and staff to do the same.
- Sanitize: Clean, sanitize, and disinfect your facilities to help prevent spread of the flu and other infectious diseases. The DSHS and CDC provide additional guidance on sanitizing and disinfecting to help reduce the spread of the flu.
For more information on the Fund and services provided, contact your risk solutions consultant at 800.482.7276. For information on Emergency Management and School Security, including assistance with your public health and medical plans, contact Melanie Moss at 512.505.2868.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.