Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Schools Preparing for Flu Bug ; Flu: Protocol in Place for Ebola

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Schools Preparing for Flu Bug ; Flu: Protocol in Place for Ebola

Article excerpt

The flu season appears to be starting sooner than usual, according to Barbara Mercer, the nurse at Lowman Hill Elementary, 1101 S.W. Garfield, since 2006.

But the nurse, whose 49-year medical career has included time as a military medic, said she is prepared for the complaints to get more serious than the occasional "my tummy's upset" as the winter months approach.

"Right now it's a lot of reassurance," Mercer said. "But this year the flu season seems to have started a little earlier than it has in the past."

Teachers cleaning hard surfaces in their classrooms and stressing to their students to cough and sneeze into their sleeves is an important line of defense against students catching colds and flu from each other in a school setting, Mercer said. She said regularly washing their hands is important, as well.

"Our teachers are wonderful about that," she said. "They wipe things down every day. That really helps prevent the spreading."

Mercer said Lowman Hill parents also are good about keeping their children home if they are ill and have a fever, another key factor in keeping the number down of sick students.

According to information provided by Topeka Unified School District 501 nursing services, children with a fever of 99.6 degrees or higher who also have a "headache, sore throat, nausea, coughing, sneezing or other symptoms" are sent home and parents are asked not to bring their child back to school until the child doesn't have a fever for 24 hours. The same guidelines apply for being sent home or staying home if a child has a fever of 100.4 or higher but has no other symptoms.

Julie Putnam, USD 501's coordinator of nursing services, said her school nurses haven't reported any significant number of illnesses since the start of the school year.

"We're not seeing that much currently," she said. …

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