In the wake of the growing number of HIN1 cases and the death of a school child in Pune, city schools have launched multi-pronged strategies, including strict implementation of the `no-school-if-sick' rule.
The otherwise common cold, cough and flu are no longer being viewed lightly with
schools insisting that students with such symptoms keep their children at home and ensure a complete medical examination.
"We have been asking parents not to send their wards to school if they are sick and are displaying bouts of coughing, sneezing and running nose", said authorities at the St Joseph's Boys High School, a leading school in the city.
Several schools have begun taking a serious view of the issue and have had periodic checks to ensure that any student showing symptoms of fever and running nose are not attending classes. "Any child found with fever and attending classes, was promptly send home after calling the parents", said Mercy Jacob, Vice Principal, Bishop Cotton Boys' High School.
The `no-school-if-sick-rule' is being strictly adhered to across schools as a precautionary measure. "We are taking no chances even though it could turn out to be a simple flu", said the head of a school.
"Though some parents send their child to school because they fear their child may miss lessons, we insist the child cannot attend classes till fully cured", said Indira Williams, Principal of the Baldwin Girls' High School.
Circulars to parents about general and swine flu and health bulletins on the issue have become a communication tool deployed by schools to drive home the message. "We have issued circular to parents of the junior classes", said Indira.
The morning assembly in several schools have turned into daily health-medical bulletins with principals of schools providing information to students on common flu as well as on swine flu and mentioning about precautionary steps to be taken by students to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
"During the assembly we have been instructing students to undergo a medical check up if they are sick", said Indira.
Lessons on personal hygiene taught in normal school curriculum have been highlighted during the assembly and classes. "Precautionary steps like covering nose while sneezing, use of tissue and disposing it have been highlighted", said Indira.
Schools like Bishop Cotton and St Joseph's have been interacting with parents and informing them about the precautions to be taken.
Some schools have also gone ahead in spraying disinfectants in the premises and playground as a precautionary step.
Doctors and nurses on the campus have been roped in to check sick students and focus has been on medical check up.
According to Dr Kiran Kinger, pediatrician attached to leading hospitals, "the number of enquiries regarding flu has increased. Attendance in schools is down by 20 per cent".
"Schools should not insist on a medical certificate now", given the situation and advice by authorities.
"Those children found sick must be asked to be kept away from school and rest at home", said Dr Kinger.
"It is high time that all schools launched awareness programmes and ensure medical examination of those found sick", he said.
Though there had been an increase in swine-flu related enquiries, less than 10 percent really wanted to go for test, he said.
According to Dr K N Manjunath, a general physician, those reporting sick were asked to stay home and rest. General advice given was to avoid crowded places and not to travel to countries where the flu is present.
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