The Department of Education announced last week that it will make $24 million in grants available to school districts this year to help them prepare for a possible widespread flu outbreak.
“Pandemic flu doesn’t fit neatly under one governmental department’s responsibility,” Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said at the planning conference for state and local officials on pandemic flu, held March 21 in Raleigh, N.C. “The fact is, it’s all of our responsibility—policymakers, educators, parents, health-care providers—all of us.”
Ms. Spellings said school district planners must talk with local health officials to draw up a plan, train teachers and administrators to carry out the plan, and teach students and parents what to do in the event of widespread illness.
Illness rates among school-age children could be as high as 40 percent in the case of a flu pandemic, Ms. Spellings said. Such widespread illness would present major challenges for schools. Concerns about avian flu have raised the urgency level of preparations for such a situation. (“Schools Urged to Prepare for Flu,” Nov. 9, 2005.)
A version of this article appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of Education Week