To Parents, Students, and Staff of Kingston Public Schools,
We wish to make you aware that one case of infection with the new strain of H1N1 influenza A ("swine flu") have recently been identified in our school. This could be expected as over time the number of cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu recognized in several Oklahoma communities and throughout the country has been steadily increasing.
Like other flu viruses, the new H1N1 flu spreads from person to person mainly through coughs or sneezes of people who are ill. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or rubbing their eyes. People with swine flu are thought to be able to spread the infection to others for approximately 7 days after becoming sick.
The most important message at this time is not new: Students and adults who are sick should not come to school. In particular, stay home if you have flu symptoms: fever and cough or sore throat, sometimes runny or stuffy noses, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea. To avoid infecting others, please stay home and stay away from others for 7 days or until all symptoms have resolved for at least one day, whichever is longer. Make decisions about when to seek medical care as you would under normal circumstances. If symptoms are more severe, call your health care provider to discuss if you need to bring your child for medical evaluation.
Even when a case or cases of the H1N1 flu are identified among children or faculty of a school, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health do NOT advise immediate school closure. In general, school dismissal would not be advised unless there was evidence of a relatively high rate of spread within the school and a magnitude of student or faculty absenteeism that would disrupt the learning environment.
Children and adults who are well and without symptoms of influenza need not be excluded from school or work on the basis of recent travel to an area with H1N1 flu, or close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of H1N1 flu. However, such persons should closely monitor their health and should not attend if they develop any symptoms. If symptoms develop while at school or work, arrange to return to home immediately.
It is very important to teach our children what we all need to do to prevent spread of the virus:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow or a tissue.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Especially after you cough or sneeze. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
For more information, please see our attached copy of "When to Keep Your Child at Home". Persons with questions about H1N1 influenza may call the OSDH H1N1 Flu toll-free hotline at 1-866-278-7134 from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. Additional information is available by visiting the OSDH web site at www.health.ok.gov and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu, or by calling your local county health department.
It is not possible to predict if the swine flu outbreak in the United States will remain mild or become worse, and in the upcoming days and weeks we will have more information and we'll share it with you. Let's all do our part to prevent the spread of the illness in our community. Thanks for your support.