Local schools preparing for swine flu this fall

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) -  A health alert about the swine flu: it's expected to get worse this fall!  That's why local schools are taking action, as students begin to return to the classroom.

In Goochland, the school year went off without a hitch Monday. But last spring and this summer, the county's schools dealt with a couple confirmed cases of swine flu. That's why letters are going home this week and steps are being taken to keep kids healthy.

Five year old Gavin just started kindergarten. His mom sent him back to school with a few lessons from home.

"We heightened hand washing and cleanliness," said Gavin's mom Beth Anne Ware.

Across the nation, concerns are mounting with a dire government prediction that up to 90,000 Americans could die from swine flu this fall and a vaccine is still months away from distribution. A school is a prime breeding ground for any virus.

"You're putting lots of children who don't always cover their coughs and sneezes in small confined places that's why we're stressing keep your children home if they have those symptoms," said Goochland Superintendent, Dr. Linda Underwood.

Letters have been sent home with some Goochland students, by week's end all parents in the county should have one.

"Remind them about hand-washing hygiene coughing and sneezing hygiene ask them to be very alert for the kinds of symptoms that may present themselves," said Underwood.

Parents in Hanover will get similar letters when school starts in two weeks. Henrico will notify parents through phone messages. Chesterfield created a special web page.

Beth Anne Ware says her son Gavin will get a seasonal flu shot as recommended until the H1N1 vaccine is available.

"I would hate to think of it hitting our family it would be awful," said Ware.

School officials we spoke with say they continue to remain in close contact with the Health Department. Just earlier this month the state expanded its swine flu call center.

If you have questions about the illness you can call the toll free number: 1-877-275-8343 during regular business hours.

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