Pencil, Paper and Swine Flu Masks the New School Norm

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    You'll have to take off the surgical mask to get the first vaccine against swine flu -- it will come in the form of a nasal spray.

     In an effort to prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus among  students, a group of state agencies is distributing 23 million disposable  masks and gloves to schools across California, State Superintendent of Public  Instruction Jack O'Connell said today.    

    Speaking at the Marin County Office of Education in San Rafael,  O'Connell said that federal grants paid for the disposable masks and gloves  for the state's 58 county offices of education, and the Los Angeles School  District.

    Since the H1N1 pandemic began spreading through schools in May,  federal health officials have encouraged parents and educators to keep  children home when they have flu-like symptoms. Students that develop these  symptoms at school should be sent to a supervised sick room and kept away  from other students until they can go home, according to federal health  guidelines.

    However, the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention call for students to wear a surgical mask, if  possible, as they wait to be picked up from school. Anyone caring for  students while still at school should also wear a protective mask and gloves. 

    The California Emergency Management Agency received two federal  grants, totaling nearly $2.5 million, to purchase the items, according to the  California Department of Education. The money was used to purchase gloves,  respirator masks and surgical masks.

    Private shipping companies donated their services to ship the  surgical masks to county education offices statewide, according to McConnell.  The respirators and gloves will be distributed later this month, when they  become available. 

    A state of emergency has existed in California since April 28, due  to the outbreak of H1N1 flu viruses across the state and the nation.

    Bay City News