You Ask, We Investigate: Guidelines for School Districts to Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Influenza

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In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, Fox 24’s Katelynn Zoellner found out what regulations are in place for schools when it comes to the flu.

It’s the peak of flu season and school districts in Arkansas are working to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We’ve got to make sure we have buses that can run, we need to make sure that the weather cooperates, we have to make sure that we have kids that are healthy enough to come to school and faculty that’s healthy enough to teach them,” said Dr. Megan Slocum, Associate Superintendent of the Fayetteville School District.

Slocum said making sure schools are safe for students and faculty is a top priority.

“We go to great measures to disinfect and clean and pay attention to small things like light switches, door knobs, things that have a high frequency of touching, people pulling on or opening,” she said.

However, mass sickness can happen. In fact, the Arkansas Department of Health says more than 15 schools in the state have closed briefly due to the flu.

“That’s when you have those conversations about is it in the best interest for those few that are left who are healthy to be around an environment or around students who may be ill,” said Slocum.

The Arkansas Department of Education leaves the decision to close school up to the superintendent.

“When you have so many students who are ill, sometimes it is the safe alternative to make it an option for kids not to come to school,” said Slocum.

While closing down can help stop the flu from spreading, Slocum said the most effective prevention tool is you.

“The biggest prevention tool that we find is that if your child is running fever, if your child is not feeling well, don’t send them to school,” she said. “Keeping them at home and letting them get well before they come back is the biggest way to prevent that. Also, getting flu shots and getting immunizations is a huge win for the prevention of before you get the illness.”

Slocum said there aren’t really any laws for school districts to follow when it comes to the flu. However, she said the CDC provides them with recommendations to help reduce the spread of the flu.

  • Encourage people to get a yearly flu vaccine.
  • Take preventative actions to stop the spread of germs like wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick.
  • Educate people on the signs and symptoms of the flu and what to do if you do get the virus.
  • Establish relationships with state and local public health officials for ongoing communication.

You can find more information about the recommendations here.

If there’s something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.

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