Future pandemic flu outbreaks would be ranked, like hurricanes, on a scale of 1 to 5, and school closures of up to three months would be recommended for more severe outbreaks, according to a planning guide released jointly last week by the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The guide is intended to provide information for states on so-called “nonpharmaceutical interventions” for dealing with a widespread outbreak of disease. Such a strategy is necessary because it’s unlikely that an effective vaccine would be available immediately after an outbreak, according to the guide.
During a severe outbreak, communities should consider closing all schools, public and private, as well as colleges, universities, and day-care facilities, the guide recommends. Communities should consider how they can continue to provide some lessons during a prolonged outbreak, as well as continue to use school assets, from kitchens to school buses.
A version of this article appeared in the February 07, 2007 edition of Education Week