Laguna Beach School District officials are on “heightened alert” in the wake of the widely reported swine flu outbreak.
“We will be monitoring ill students and staff as they come through the health office,” Supt. Robert Fraisse wrote in a letter to parents Monday. “We will be reporting any increase in absenteeism to the local health department.”
Irene White, director of special education, said the district has not seen a decrease in attendance since the flu outbreak made the news. One parent expressed concern about a sick child, and one student came to the health office concerned because she had been on a private plane from Mexico over the weekend, White said.
“We are sending a strong message to teachers that, if kids seem ill, to refer them to the Health Office,” White said. “So far, everyone’s been really calm.”
White said the district has been instructed to report to the Orange County Health Department if there are two or more cases of elevated fevers in a single class, or three cases of high fevers in a school.
“We are taking this as an opportunity to stress good hygiene to the students and keeping everyone aware,” White said.
Swine flu has been reported in San Diego and Imperial counties, and has reached epidemic proportions in parts of Mexico, where more than 100 people have reportedly died from the illness. Travelers are being warned not to go to Mexico unless it is absolutely necessary, and face masks are being worn by many people in Mexico City as protection.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak.
Fraisse’s letter tells parents that swine flu symptoms are similar to other influenza infections: fever, respiratory symptoms, body aches and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
The letter advises parents, students and staff to wash hands often with soap or use sanitizers; cover up coughs or sneezes; avoid touching the face; and stay home in case of illness.
“At this time, the district will monitor the situation, increase our surveillance in the health office as well as encourage all to practice good hygiene,” Fraisse wrote.
The letter was posted on the district website, distributed via e-mail and sent home with elementary students.
CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 380-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.