More cleaning planned in N.D. schools to prevent swine flu outbreakNorth Dakota students will see plenty of hand sanitizer when they go back to school. Doorknobs and desks might be given an extra cleaning. And officials want no smelly socks left in locker rooms. Schools are putting more emphasis on stopping the spread of germs to reduce the risk of swine flu.
By: Associated Press,
BISMARCK — North Dakota students will see plenty of hand sanitizer when they go back to school. Doorknobs and desks might be given an extra cleaning. And officials want no smelly socks left in locker rooms.
Schools are putting more emphasis on stopping the spread of germs to reduce the risk of swine flu. They meet regularly with federal, state and public health agencies as they prepare for classes starting next week.
“They’re basically telling us that this flu season could be much more intense than usual,” said Fargo School District spokesman Lowell Wolff said. “The global mobility makes us all a little concerned. All it takes is one or two people who have gone to places that have it to bring back a present.”
Wolff said Fargo schools put alcohol-based hand sanitizers at entrances to every lunch area.
“We can’t require it, but we can strongly recommend it,” he said.
In Devils Lake, hand sanitizing dispensers can be found throughout the school buildings, Superintendent Steve Swiontek said.
“We are cleaning more often. What we still have to get a handle on is the athletic portion,” Swiontek said. “We’re going to try to encourage kids to wash their clothes more often. We’re going to check on wiping down the weight room. Some are notorious for leaving some of their stuff hanging in the lockers for a month or so.”
In Crosby, “even our coaches are aware of it and are taking measures there, too; they spray down weights with antiseptic. When the kids are done, the whole weight room gets a spray-down,” Superintendent Ryan Townsend said.
Bismarck Superintendent Paul Johnson, whose school district is the state’s largest with about 10,600 students, said officials also will try to make sure youngsters go home if they’re sick, especially if they have a fever.
“Doorknobs, certain surfaces, areas where lots of kids congregate, like maybe weight machines. Locker room benches, drinking fountains — areas where are there going to be lots of hands, those are places our custodians are going to be checking,” Johnson said.
Schools also are preparing to become centers for distributing flu vaccine.
“We’ve been told they’ll pick probably not every school but the larger schools, and maybe incorporate two or three schools,” Johnson said. “They will be voluntary, encouraging families to come in.”
In Fargo, Wolff said four school buildings were neighborhood flu clinics last year. He said that status will be expanded to 22 buildings this year.
During the last school year, 115 school districts lost a total of 300 school days, mainly due to flooding and other storm disasters, state school Superintendent Wayne Sanstead said. Officials this year want to avoid those kinds of numbers but still prevent the spread of illness.
“The key is, individuals with any kind of influenza — stay home,” Sanstead said.