The U.S. Department of Health And Human Services recently issued the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan. This document serves as a blueprint for all HHS pandemic influenza preparedness and response planning. Part 1, the Strategic Plan, describes a coordinated public health and medical care strategy to prepare for, and begin responding to, an influenza pandemic. Part 2, Public Health Guidance for State and Local Partners provides guidance on specific aspects of pandemic influenza planning and response for the development of state and local preparedness plans.
An Exec Summary is attached and can be found at:
Some considerations in the report that may affect public schools are:
- Closure of office buildings, stores, schools, and public transportation systems may be feasible community containment measures during a pandemic.
- Although data are limited, school closures may be effective in decreasing spread of influenza and reducing the overall magnitude of disease in a community. In addition, the risk of infection and illness among children is likely to be decreased, which would be particularly important if the pandemic strain causes significant morbidity and mortality among children.
- Children are known to be efficient transmitters of seasonal influenza and other respiratory illnesses. Anecdotal reports suggest that community influenza outbreaks may be limited by closing schools. Results of mathematical modeling also suggest a reduction of overall disease, especially when schools are closed early in the outbreak.
- During a Pandemic Period, parents should be encouraged to consider child care arrangements that do not result in large gatherings of children outside the school setting.
- Local public health education campaigns that involve community partners can build public confidence in the ability to cope with an influenza pandemic. Partners may include schools, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and other "civil society" institutions that can help educate the public and provide support to families and persons who are incapacitated by illness.
- Much of the work in identifying and evaluating potential sites for isolation should be conducted in advance of an outbreak as part of preparedness planning. Options for existing structures include community health centers, nursing homes, apartments, schools, dormitories, and hotels.