School District: Contingency Plan Needed in Case Employees Contract H1N1

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While the effect of the H1N1 virus on child safety is at the top of public health concerns, the impact of the flu on the health of school employees is not being lost on Clark County School District in Las Vegas.

As one of the five largest school districts in the nation, Clark County employs nearly 39,000 people full-time, part-time or on a temporary or seasonal basis. Of this group, 2,100 work in transportation. The district’s school bus fleet is a resource available for the the county’s emergency response plans in case of an ordered evacuation. So far the Clark County Department of Health has not ordered any school closures, and it figures not to do so. Still, Clark County School District’s transportation director is fearful of what might happen if he doesn’t have enough health employees to drive children to and from school.

“My concern has always been, who are we going to put behind the wheel?” said Frank Giordano, transportation chief at Clark County Schools. “You’ve got Moms and Dads driving those buses, and in an emergency they’re going to be at home with their kids.”

The school district is developing a business continuity plan across all departments to ensure that all student classroom and support services remain up and running, prompted by the death of a 6-year-old student from H1N1 complications. Giordano said the plan requires recall lists and what-if scenarios based on percentages of employees off. In doing so, the transportation department is identifying positions critical to school bus service and is cross-training its employees just in case a last-minute replacement is needed.

As for day-to-day operations, common sense hygiene rules apply. Employees are encouraged to frequently wash their hands and to use hand sanitizer that is available in all dispatch areas and at each bus year. Additional, employees are urged to use “sneeze methodologies” like burying one’s face in the crook of their elbow and using the shirt sleeve to block any germ transmission. Most importantly, employees should stay home if symptoms appear They are advised to stay home when symptoms appear.