Better Pandemic Preparedness Urged in Schools

Less than half of U.S. schools deal with pandemic preparedness in their school plans, and only 40 percent have updated their school plans since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, according to a new report.

The study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, is based on survey responses from about 2,000 school nurses in 26 states. A team of researchers from Saint Louis University found that just 29.7 percent of schools stockpile any personal protective equipment, and 22.9 percent have no staff members trained on the school’s disaster plan.

The findings also show that 33.8 percent of schools say that training of students on infection prevention occurs less than once per year. Only 1.5 percent of schools report stockpiling medication in anticipation of another pandemic.

"Despite the recent H1N1 pandemic that disproportionately affected school-age children, many schools do not have plans to adequately address a future biological event," says Terri Rebmann, lead study author and associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

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