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Schools get instructions about how to protect against swine flu

On many issues, they’re at odds, but right now the teachers union and city are working together to stop the spread of swine flu, the potentially dangerous virus that first emerged in Mexico and has now infected schoolchildren in Queens.

A confirmation that students at a Queens Catholic school were diagnosed with swine flu sent officials into a frenzy this weekend about how to deal with the disease and its accompanying panic. According to a United Federation of Teachers spokesman, union president Randi Weingarten spent part of her Sunday on a conference call with the city Department of Education and the UFT’s Health and Safety Department. 

The UFT and DOE last night issued guidelines for schools, encouraging teachers to maximize air circulation by opening classroom windows and to stay home if they feel sick. The DOE also instructed school nurses to place surgical masks immediately on students who have a fever over 100.5 degrees and any other flu-like symptoms. Both sets of full instructions are after the jump.

Earlier this weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that dozens of students at a Queens Catholic school are suspected to have contracted swine flu, although none has become seriously ill. (Two of the cases suspected there are the daughters of State Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., according to Liz Benjamin at the Daily News.)

Some Brooklyn students might have escaped exposure after the DOE cancelled their spring break trip to Cancun. Parents from MS 447 were angry about the last-minute cancellation, which the department said was needed because of heightened violence in Mexico. I’m guessing those parents are feeling relieved right now.

The UFT’s swine flu instructions

The DOE’s memo to school health personnel