Discuss The Case For Early School Closure here.

See also Colleges

Associations and US Government Departments

School Closing Authority

What Do You Tell Your School Board When It Asks About Avian Flu Readiness?

Connie Harden is a nationally known HR consultant who wrote a chapter by that title for an upcoming book. The publisher, Thompson Publishing Group, has consented to its posting. It will be included as Chapter One in a book on various challenges facing schools at the K-12 level, to be published in the next month or so.

What Do You Tell Your School Board When It Asks About Avian Flu Readiness? The 22 page .pdf can be downloaded here.

We are very grateful to both the author and the publisher for graciously allowing us to post this text in the interests of furthering preparedness.

Funding for prep efforts:

“To assist in your efforts, we have also made a determination that funds from Title IV, Part A, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act State Grants program, may be utilized for general pandemic influenza planning activities. Please review the program guidance, which is available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/dvpformula/legislation.html, for additional information about administering these funds.” -Margaret Spellings, Michael O. Leavitt link

School closure

Tabletop exercise
Pandemic Influenza Tabletop Exercise: K-12 School Closure as a Disease Containment Measure from Minnesota Department of Health

Case for early school closure: Children will play a major role in transmission of infection as their illness rates are likely to be higher, they shed more virus over a longer period of time, and they control their secretions less well.

Evidence to Support School Closure

  • Children are thought to be the main introducers of influenza into households.
  • Children appear to be more susceptible to influenza and more infectious than adults in well-designed prospective studies of risk factors of influenza transmission in households.
  • Nationwide school closure in Israel during an influenza epidemic resulted in significant decreases in the diagnoses of respiratory infections (42%), visits to physicians (28%) and emergency departments (28%), and medication purchases (35%).
Non-pharmaceutical Strategies to Limit Spread of Pandemic Influenza
Martin Cetron, MD, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 page presentation pdf

Evidence presented at IOM meeting:
1- Early interventions– before 3% cumulative infection, shown to have substantial effect.
2- Early school closure consistently related to reduction of epidemic peak, both from modelling and from 1918 data.
3- Closure of churches, theatres, and other ‘social distancing’ measures also work.
4- Multiple early interventions increase benefit further.
5- Social cohesion, local leadership, and trust in government important.
6- Measures not found to provide benefit – quarantine, banning of public funerals, making influenza notifiable.

Note: the IOM report does not conclude that there is definitive scientific or historical evidence. Models reviewed have mixed results:

Conclusion 5: In summary, the evidence suggests a role for community restrictions in reducing pandemic influenza virus transmission. The evidence does not allow for differentiating possible effects of specific types of community restrictions, nor does it allow differentiation between voluntary versus mandatory community restrictions. In general, evidence from modeling and from historical analyses confirm what is known for any infectious disease outbreak, that is, early intervention shows more promise than later intervention. The main effect might be to slow the time to peak of the outbreak in a community, which could be important for hospital-based management of ill patients and to allow for delivery of vaccine if available.

Basis for Targeted Layered Containment

1- at least 1/3 of all flu transmissions will be due to children.
2- closing schools early will reduce the attack rate (AR) for children and decrease overall number of cases, but will increase transmission in community and in households.
3- keeping kids at home will reduce community transmission but increase the relative importance of workplace transmission.
4- household quarantine ie keeping sick people and their family at home, especially with antivirals, will reduce overall transmission.
5- further but increase the relative importance of workplace and community transmission.
6- promoting social distancing will result in further reductions.
Once deaths occur, parents will take their kids out of school. Unplanned school closures will not happen early enough to reduce mortality, but resulting chaos and mistrust will reduce compliance for further interventions and damage social stability. Losing children is recognized as severest trauma by psychologists.

see also Homeschool

Specific school systems and planning tools:

Orange County, CA Pandemic Planning Kit
Contra Costa, CA Pandemic Planning Kit
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness for Schools from California Distance Learning Health Network
Satellite Broadcast • Tabletop Exercise • Online Toolkit
Launches: May 17, 2007 • Live Broadcast: 9:00–10:30 a.m. PT • Tabletop exercise to follow

News stories:

Taunton, MA

If an influenza outbreak occurs, the school - one of the district’s largest - will be used as a makeshift hospital.

40,000 Marin Schoolkids Get Bird Flu Warning

Health officials recently sent 40,000 fliers home with Marin County schoolchildren warning parents to prepare for a possible bird flu pandemic in California.

NY School district seeks flu plan

The Horseheads Central School District is taking steps to prepare for an outbreak of flu — anything from a local epidemic to a national or even global pandemic.
Page last modified on October 12, 2009, at 09:31 PM by pogge