As more states, including Texas, report measles cases this year, health officials are urging vaccinations against this potentially fatal illness. The TASB Risk Management Fund (Fund) encourages you to prepare now for the potential impact of measles on staff, students, and operations.
Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat of an infected person. When someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, or talks, infected droplets spray into the air.
Infected droplets can stay on surfaces in an active and contagious state for several hours. Individuals can get the virus by putting their fingers in their mouth or nose or rubbing their eyes after touching an infected surface. A person with the virus can spread measles to others up to four days before the onset of symptoms and four days after a rash appears.
School-based health programs
A school-based health program is one of the most effective tools against not only measles, but also the flu, strep throat, bronchitis, and other illnesses.
Key program components include collaboration with public health officials; processes to limit the spread of diseases; and the promotion of recommended vaccines. Habits such as washing your hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, and staying home when you’re sick are basic, yet powerful measures.
A solid school-based health program can go a long way toward keeping staff, students, and the community healthy. Still, an outbreak of a serious illness such as measles can impact any organization. The Fund’s experts recommend that members develop a plan for ensuring essential functions continue through significant, extended staffing shortages.
Safe and healthy schools thrive on strong partnerships among stakeholders. This includes emergency management personnel, first responders, faculty, staff, students, volunteers, parents, and the community. Remember to leverage those partnerships to prepare for all emergencies, not just those with health implications.
How the Fund can help
The Fund is here to support members and help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, school violence, infectious diseases, and other emergencies. For more information, contact Emergency Management and School Security Consultant Melanie Moss at 512.505.2868 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.