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Schools On Alert For Flu Virus
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Taking a proactive approach, letters have gone out to the family of every student in the Escalon Unified School District, with information about how to protect against the H1N1 flu virus.

Basics such as making sure to wash your hands regularly are coming into sharper focus, with the area on alert because of the possibility of a tough flu season ahead.

"This is a major focus in the county," agreed Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Dave Mantooth. "Districts are working with the health department and we had a letter sent out to all our students' families stating the precautions to take, things to be on the lookout for."

San Joaquin County Public Health Services issued a press release on Thursday, Aug. 20 noting that in the past month, "two deaths have occurred in San Joaquin County" from the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus. Those included a 5-year-old girl from Stockton and a 34-year-old man from Lathrop.

Mantooth said district residents have been advised to keep their children home if they have a temperature greater than 100 degrees and to keep them home from school for a day after their temperature subsides.

"Our district nurse has also provided training," he said of teachers being clued in.

They will be looking for any type of illness trends in the classroom and keeping a close eye on students, said Mantooth.

"We're making our teachers aware," he noted.

Hand sanitizer is readily available throughout the district and recommended for use, while Mantooth said officials are also looking for ways to clean desktops on a more regular basis so as to limit the spread of germs.

"We're on a higher level of alert," Mantooth said of actively working to keep the flu at bay.

County health officials indicate there is a greater chance for a more widespread outbreak of the flu this fall and winter during the normal flu season, with some of the cases likely being the H1N1 strain. That type, noted officials, has shown to be harder on people younger than 25 than it is in people older than 64, basically a reversal of typical flu trends.

"We're going to encourage everyone, all our students and staff, that when the regular flu shots become available, they take care of that," Mantooth said of getting the shot this fall. "Our nurse also has some videos, covering things like proper hand washing techniques.

"Basically we're just issuing constant reminders."