British Columbia

B.C. school officials to meet on swine flu

As children are gearing up for the first day back at school, B.C.'s provincial health officer is planning to meet with school officials about swine flu.

As children are gearing up for the first day back at school, B.C.'s provincial health officer is planning to meet with school officials about swine flu.

Dr. Perry Kendall will speak with school superintendents through a teleconference within the next two weeks to talk about what they can do to deal with inevitable outbreaks of the flu.

Kendall said he does not expect the presence of the H1N1 influenza virus to force schools to close, but the loss of employees who may have to stay home sick could result in school administrators making that decision.

"It might be an administrative decision to shut a school down just for … safety issues or the fact that you basically had turned into a daycare operation because you couldn't offer educational programming. That would be the major consideration this fall, I think."

Kendall said thorough washing with soap and water is the best way to keep hands clean, but he'll also be advising schools to use hand sanitizer.

"We are making that recommendation and I think we'll see more and more of it in schools."

Kendall said the message to parents is to keep sick children at home.

"It really is of primary importance to keep the children home so that they don't infect others. That, I think, is the primary message."

Fact sheets about swine flu will be also sent home at the beginning of the school year.

The date of the teleconference is still being finalized. School is set to start on Sept. 8.

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