District ramps up flu preparations

CHATHAM – Melony Spock was sworn in Tuesday evening as a school board member. She fills a vacant seat left when Jeanean Chenney moved out of the district and her appointment brings the board back to a full complement of nine members. Her term will be up in May 2010.

At this week’s meeting the board also got updates on the school’s H1N1 flu virus preparations and the one-bell busing system.

Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo started the September 15 workshop meeting talking about the district’s policies on swine flu. She said it’s a balance between being prepared and panicked. “At this point [the H1N1 flu] is no stronger than any other strain of flu,” she said. The panic would come if the strain got worse. “It could be that this could be a lot of preparation for nothing,” said Ms. Nuciforo, but the district wants to be ready if they have an outbreak of the flu and have several employees and students out.

 

She talked about reminding students to wash their hands and making sure there are opportunities throughout the day for them to do so. She also said the district was putting hand-sanitizers in several places around the school. Ms. Nuciforo said that she and administrators met with the custodial staff about extra cleaning and sanitizing of common areas, a procedure she said “will become a regular part of their… routine.”

In terms of combating the spread of the flu, the superintendent said that the most important action students and adults can take is to “stay home when you are sick.” That approach is supported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state education and health departments. Students and staff should not return to work until they have been free of fever for 24 hours without the use of fever relieving medicine.

Ms. Nuciforo said that area schools have been contacted about becoming vaccination sites for the county. Details for administering the vaccine are still being worked out, so nothing was decided about when and if the school would be used.

She said closing school was a possibility but officials hope to avoid that. There will be updates on the district website www.chathamcentralschools.com as well as a letter sent home to parents.

As for the new one-bell busing system, which has all students K through 12 riding the buses in one run each way rather than separate runs for younger and older students, Ms. Nuciforo said, “I’m pleased where we are at this point.” She said the buses are now “pretty well balanced.”

She said they still working on timing and will have more signs about the new traffic patterns. She also said that the district is “employing a few gentle reminders for meandering students,” so they get to their buses on time at the end of the day.

Ms. Nuciforo said that school officials are revisiting special requests from parents who need accommodations for childcare. She said that the transportation supervisor is working on ways to meet the requests. Late buses have already started, and the district is getting a more accurate count of who is riding the bus.

“I appreciate the effort,” said board member Fred Hutchinson, who had been critical of the district for not being more accommodating with parents’ special requests.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the High School Library.

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