Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Elementary and Secondary Schools

These guidelines have been developed based on the best evidence available. As more information becomes available, these guidelines will be updated.

Issued August 28, 2009

1. Introduction

The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus (pH1N1) has rapidly spread across the world. In Ontario, the majority of confirmed cases of the pandemic strain have been reported in healthy young adults and most cases have been mild. People between 5 and 24 years of age comprise a larger proportion of cases compared to other age groups. Younger children are most at risk of acquiring infection, presumably due to difficulty in maintaining routine practice in hand hygiene and appropriate coughing /sneezing etiquette.

It is essential, as part of the development of a comprehensive, scaled and integrated series of public health measures, to have strategies in place to prevent the spread of disease in the school-based setting. However, it is important to note that these strategies are not necessarily new but rather a reinforcement of the existing infection prevention and control practices to prevent or reduce the spread of influenza and procedures for dealing with staff, students or volunteers who become ill.

Schools and education staff play an important role in protecting the health of students, staff and local community members, through their educational role, their own modeled health behaviours and their informed decision-making.

For the purpose of this guidance document, schools refer to institutions providing kindergarten to grade 12 education programs to children and adolescents in group settings.

Influenza-like Illness

Influenza-like illness (ILI) is the acute onset of respiratory symptoms with fever and cough and one or more of the following symptoms: sore throat, muscle aches, joint pain, or weakness. In children under 5, gastrointestinal symptoms may also be present and fever may not be prominent.

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School Pandemic Prevention and Management Guidelines - English (PDF)59.89 KB
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School Pandemic Prevention and Management Guidelines - Oji-cree (PDF)92.62 KB