Swine Flu Concerns Common, Survey Reveals

As school administrators across the country face the start of a new school year, the possibility of a re-emergence of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, is on the forefront of their minds, according to a snapshot study of school leaders released today by the American Association of School Administrators. http://www.aasa.org

AASA sent the Survey on H1N1 Guidance via e-mail to 173 school system leaders around the nation who comprise the AASA Executive Committee, Governing Board and Advisory Committees. A total of 61 members completed the survey the eight-question survey online between July 27 and July 31, 2009, yielding a response rate of 35 percent.

The findings of the survey are as follows:

  • AASA members have a suite of concerns around their districts’ responsibilities in addressing H1N1. Eighty eight percent (87.7 percent) said their biggest concern is protecting students and staff in the school buildings, followed by providing regular and timely updates relevant to school and parent communities (73.8 percent), receiving timely guidance from the federal government (49.2 percent), contacting and working with local agencies (35.4 percent) and getting information on what populations within the district are most vulnerable and how to care for them (24.6 percent).
  • The operational aspects associated with preparing for H1N1 raise several points of concern for AASA members. Eighty-six percent (85.7 percent) of respondents indicate that their biggest operational concern is knowing when to close a school, followed by maintaining instructional activities if schools are closed for a long time (73.0 percent), creating social distancing in schools (i.e., keeping individuals away those who might be infected) (54.0 percent), responding to media questions regarding illness in the district (46.0 percent), communicating school dismissal/closure to parents and students (38.1 percent), hosting a school-located H1N1 vaccination clinic (30.2 percent) and communicating school dismissal/closure to the federal government (6.3 percent).
  • A majority of school administrators would be willing to host H1N1 vaccinations in their district buildings and are flexible regarding the time of day when the clinics may be scheduled. Seventy-one percent (70.5 percent) of respondents would be interested in hosting H1N1 vaccination clinics, 26 percent would need more information, and only three percent (3.3 percent) were not interested in hosting vaccination clinics. Almost 80 percent (79.3 percent) would hold the clinics during/after school or at both times, while 16 percent voted for after-hour clinics and five percent voted for during-school vaccinations.