School attendance being closely monitored for effects of H1N1 virus
Attendance in schools in Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) is being closely monitored for the effects of the H1N1 virus, and absences among students and staff are trending upward, particularly at the elementary school level. Attendance data are being tracked to identify potential trends and areas where there may be higher reports of absences due to symptoms of Influenza Like Illness (ILI). However, it is important to note that these figures include absences for any reason, not just ILI. Some schools have shown student absences of 15 percent or above on a given day, but Divisionwide, data show that student absences are near 10 percent on average, compared to the normal 3-5 percent. Staff absences are about 3 percent on a given day, an increase from the normal rate of less than 1 percent on average.
As has been communicated previously, in accordance with the Center of Disease Control (CDC) guidance, the Prince William Health District (PWHD) is not testing all students/staff having ILI symptoms for the H1N1 virus. Therefore, it is impossible to know which cases are, indeed, caused by the H1N1 virus. However, since we know the virus is circulating in the community, and due to the number of students/staff who are ill, we continue to provide updated information through schools and on the PWCS Web site (at pwcs.edu) as part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community fully informed of important school-related news.
PWCS is working in concert with the PWHD and following the guidance of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the CDC. All appropriate measures are being taken to ensure the health of all PWCS students and staff, including the use of approved disinfectant detergents that kill viruses such as H1N1.
Please continue to monitor your children for any of the symptoms of influenza, which include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea. If your child is experiencing any symptoms which you are concerned about, please keep your child at home and contact your child’s healthcare provider.
As a continued reminder, there are simple steps that can be taken to keep families healthy. These include:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Clean hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze
Stay home when you are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
Avoid close contact with those who have symptoms of flu.
If you need to seek care for you or your child, please call ahead to your health care provider’s office and tell them what symptoms you have, so they can see you quickly and prevent exposing other people in the waiting room.
The health and safety of our students is always of the utmost importance. Please refer to the PWCS Web site at pwcs.edu, or the VDH Web site at www.vdh.virginia.gov for more information and for helpful resources regarding ILI and the H1N1 Virus.