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— Though school has just barely begun, we have already entered the early stages of the flu season.

We are diligently following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help reduce the spread of flu in Pea Ridge schools.

We want to keep the school open and functioning in a normal manner during this flu season. We need your help to do this.

We are working closely with the Arkansas Department of Education and the local Benton County Health Department to monitor flu conditions and make decisions about the best steps to take concerning school. We will keep you updated with information as it becomes available. Here are a few things you can do to help.

Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. We can all set a good example doing this with them.

Teach your children not to share personal items such as drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. When tissues are not available, have them use their elbow, arm, or sleeve and wash as soon as possible.

Know the signs andsymptoms of the flu. Symptoms include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.5 Celsius or greater), cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and feeling very tired. Some people may have vomiting or have diarrhea.

Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever without using fever-reducing drugs. Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.

Do not send children to school if they are sick.

Any children who are determined sick will be sent home.

The Pea Ridge staff is working ardently to provide a healthy environment for our students. We are following CDC recommendations with disinfection in the schools. We are also encouraging students to get proper rest, nutrition and fluids.

Parents will soon be receiving letters and permission forms for the upcoming flu vaccine clinic held at school for Pea Ridge students. The clinic will be held on two days and divid ed by grade level groups.

Nov. 30 will be for 6th through 12th grades. The clinic will be held Dec. 1 for kindergarten through fifth grades. All information will be sent home with students soon. This is for seasonal flu vaccine and also for the H1N1 vaccine, if it is available at that time. Pea Ridge school staff will also be given the opportunity to get the vaccine.

This is an opportunity provided through the county health departments in the school districts statewide. Letters went home with all students by the second week of school regarding our governor's desire to provide an opportunity for all school-age children to receive the flu vaccine.

This is strictly parent's and guardian's choices. No one is required to have the vaccine. Also, some may want to have their children receive vaccine sooner than the clinic dates set for our school.

We will not be giving the mist form of vaccine, only the injection form. This may be a consideration for your child. We will provide more details in the coming weeks.

School, Pages 6 on 09/23/2009

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