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WORCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS. COMPREHENSIVE H1N1 PLAN. Worcester H1N1 Task Force: established April 2009. David Clemons, Worcester Emergency Communication, Chair Appointed by City Manager Membership included representatives from:. PURPOSE.

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Worcester public schools



Worcester h1n1 task force established april 2009
Worcester H1N1 Task Force: established April 2009

  • David Clemons, Worcester Emergency Communication, Chair

    Appointed by City Manager

  • Membership included representatives from:


  • Review DPH and DESE guidance concerning H1N1 to coordinate surveillance and preventative measures

  • Collaborate to articulate coherent media messages, Connect-Ed message and press releases

  • Met daily, then weekly in the Spring and bi-weekly this fall

  • Summer2009

  • Smaller group (DPH, WPS, D. Clemons) met weekly for updates

  • Worked collaboratively to develop surveillance, preventative measures

  • Explore city-wide vaccination messaging and plans

Worcester public schools


  • Receive frequent updates from MA DPH and DESE through Superintendent’s Office and Nursing Office

  • Participated in conference call with MA DPH and DESE on Wednesday, September 9thfor additional information and guidance

  • H1N1 Task Force meets bi-weekly

  • Focus on keeping schools open

  • Focus on prevention strategies – education

  • Isolate and send home students and staff who become sick at school

  • CDC is not recommending H1N1 confirmation testing

Worcester public schools

Exclusion period

  • Must stay home for 24 hours after no fever and no fever-reducing medications.

  • Most can expect to stay home about 4 days: 3 with fever plus one more day

  • Fever with influenza can last 2-5 days or more

Dph dese guidance
DPH/DESE Guidance

H1N1 Symptoms: similar to normal human seasonal influenza

► Fever 100.4 ► Coughing or sore throat

► Headache/body aches ► Runny or stuffy nose

► Chills ► Fatigue

In addition to the above symptoms, a number of H1N1 flu cases reported vomiting and diarrhea.

Why the focus on schools confirmed cases of h1n1 influenza in ma as of 9 3 09
Why the focus on schools?Confirmed Cases of H1N1 Influenza in MA, as of 9/3/09

Percentage of confirmed cases

  • 1399 confirmed cases

  • Median age 14 yrs

  • 63% of confirmed cases ≤ 18 years

  • 13% hospitalized

  • 11 H1N1 attributable deaths

  • 36 child deaths in US; 80% > age 5

  • Southern US now seeing increase in cases

<5 5-11 12-18 19-25 26-44 45-64 65+

Age Group in Years

Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Education of wps staff students and families
Education of WPS Staff, Students and Families

Staff Education

  • Reassure all staff that there is no need for special “disinfection” or “decontamination.” When respiratory secretions dry out, virus is no longer infectious.

  • At full faculty meetings nurses presented information on H1N1 and all faculty reviewed DVD developed collaboratively by MTA, DPH and WPS which focused on pandemic and preventative measures.

  • All teachers received the teacher fact sheet: Action Steps for Teachers to Prevent the Spread of Flu

  • Cafeteria staff, bus drivers and monitors received similar training

  • Custodial staff met with administrators and Coordinator of Custodial Staff & Maintenance Services to review building cleanliness guidelines with regard to H1N1: provide routine cleaning of “high touch surfaces”

  • Nurses received DPH immunization training on August 31, 2009

  • Nurses will be test-fitted for N95 masks

Worcester public schools

Student Education

  • Classroom teachers and nurses collaboratively planned and delivered lessons on coughing etiquette, appropriate hand washing and the importance of staying home when sick

  • Health and physical education teachers will deliver lessons throughout October focused on preventative measures to stay healthy

  • Coaches will deliver the same message to all athletes participating in fall and winter sports

  • Schools are displaying prevention posters in key areas such as entrances, cafeterias and offices

  • Allied Health class at Worcester Technical High School is focusing a Community Service Project on preschool lessons on H1N1 preventive measures

Worcester public schools

Family Education

  • All families received H1N1 Action Steps for Parents to Protect Your Child and Family from Flu this School Year and Action Steps for Parents if School is Dismissed or Children are Sick and Must Stay Home. This information is also posted on our website.

  • Reassure all families that there is no need for special “disinfection” or “decontamination.” When respiratory secretions dry out, virus is no longer infectious.

  • A letter to parents was sent home the first week of school and is posted on our website

  • A link to www.flu.gov is posted on our website if parents want additional information



  • Student dismissals due to Influenza-like illness (ILI) were monitored

  • Collaborated with DPH, City Manager’s Office, Emergency Management concerning confirmed cases and messages to families

    FALL 2009

  • CDC, state and local DPH not requiring H1N1 confirmation testing

  • H1N1 confirmation testing recommended for high-risk cases only (e.g. hospitalization)

  • Student dismissals due to ILI are monitored

  • Gathered and analyzed student and staff absences for 07-08 and 08-09 to monitor for possible increase in absences in 09-10

Materials preparation
Materials Preparation


  • Masks, gloves and Sani-Cloths HB germicidal disposable wipes were purchased and distributed through the nurses’ office

    FALL 2009

  • Sani-Cloths HB germicidal disposable wipes distributed

  • Planning to deploy hand sanitizers in each school

  • Donation of two touchless foam hand sanitizer dispensers for each school

  • Partnering with DPH to access state-based funding

Vaccination guidance

H1N1 initial target groups as identified by the CDC:

  • Pregnant women

  • Household contacts/caregivers of infants < 6 months

  • Children and young people, age 6 months to 24 years

  • People age 25 to 64 with certain medical conditions

  • Health care providers and emergency medical services personnel


  • Seasonal flu vaccination is being recommended for children/young people between the ages of 6 months and 18 years old

  • H1N1 flu vaccination is recommended for children/young people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old

  • Participation is voluntary

  • WPS will partner with DPH and local health organizations to develop a coordinated plan for the administration of vaccine to school-age children and families

School closure decisions in the event of increased severity of conditions

  • Primary goal is to keep schools open and functioning as usual

  • Schools closure on case-by-case basis if influenza-like illness has impaired school’s ability to function

  • School officials will collaborate with the Worcester Department of Public Health prior to final decision

  • DPH will alert DESE and schools of increased severity of conditions

In the event of school closure

  • All school-related activities, sports events, etc. should be cancelled

  • Discourage students from congregating elsewhere

  • Duration of closure should be discussed with DPH

  • Closures must be reported to DPH and DESE

  • We will use parental and staff notification systems to inform of school status

  • Exploring options to maintain studentlearning during recuperation and/or school closure

Questions comments