Parents fear H1N1 virus, officials say it's safe at school

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WEINER, AR (KAIT) - Providing an education is the number one concern for schools in Region 8, but at the same time they're also focused on keeping your kids safe and healthy.  With the threat of the swine flu, many schools are feeling the fear from parents.

There is a real possibility that kids in different schools and cities will get the swine flu or even the regular flu this fall.  School officials tell Region 8 News while many parents worry they have no need to panic.

"Don't make the situation worse by panicking and saying, 'Well, we've heard that this is going on at Bay'.  It's not something that's going to shut us down," said Bay School District Superintendent Chip Layne.

Layne said kids get sick every year and there's really nothing that can be done to stop it.

"We just want to get it out there that if we have that issue arise at Bay and if your son or daughter are diagnosed with the swine flu just don't panic.  Treat them and keep them home till they're well," said Layne.

If a child is diagnosed with the flu of any kind it is still safe for your kids to come to school.

"We have taken the precautions as far as cleaning, hand sanitizing, stressing washing hands and that's really all the preventative measures that you can take," said Layne.

Superintendent Chuck Hanson at the Weiner School District said they're taking extra steps.

"We are doing everything we know to do and spent a little extra money in getting it done," said Hanson.

The teachers are also using a mixture of bleach and water on the desks.  Bathrooms are sanitized between every class break and so are water fountains.  Anything that can be touched by a child is cleaned as often as possible.

"My advice to a parent who has a child who is not showing symptoms or is not sick is not to be frightened, to go ahead and send them to school that's where they need to be," said Layne.

At the same time, if your child is sick keep your child home.

"If you send them to school with fever with these symptoms you're not helping the problem you're adding to the problem," said Layne.

"We want parents to know if there's ever a real outbreak or threat of that we will notify them immediately," said Hanson.

Free flu shots will be offered through the Arkansas Department of Health for school children in grades K through 12 in October.  The ADH will also do the mass inoculation clinic for free flu shots this fall in Craighead County.  Amy Howell, director of the Craighead County Health Unit said they will do the clinic on October 29th.  If the H1N1 vaccine is ready at that point they will give that shot for free too.

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