Sunday, May 3, 2009

Suspected Swine Flu virus hits Orland Park -- Orland Junior High

Orland Park's District 135 issued a telephone alert on Sunday at 10:50 am to inform parents that a suspected case of the H1N1 Influenza Virus, more commonly called the Swine Flu Virus, has been detected at Orland Junior High School, 14855 West Avenue, which serves 6th through 8th grade children ages 11 to 14.

"The Board recommends we do not close Orland Junior High for two reasons: the student has not been in the building since last Wednesday and attendance at the school remains high. Parents who have called their children in absent for sickness have not reported flu like symptoms. Therefore, we will follow the County Health Department's recommendation and keep Orland Junior High open. Our maintenance crew is doing additional disinfection work at Orland Junior High today Sunday May 3 to insure the safest possible environment for school on Monday."

The situation at Orland Junior High school did not meet the criteria the District 135 set last week for possible closure of schools.

The District sent home a letter with all students on April 29, saying:

"In the event we have a confirmed case of the Swine influenza at any of our schools, we will close that school. In addition, if our attendance rate drops at any of our schools due to children with flu-like symptoms, we will also close that school."

The district urged residents to visit their web at or call the district at 708-364-3370 with concerns or questions. (See info below)

Precautions being taken throughout Orland Park:

Christ Lutheran Church in Orland Park is making hand sanitizers available and parishioners are being urged to use them. "One hand sanitizer will be strategically placed to be used by clergy before Communion, and assistants and elders will be instructed to use it," said the Rev. Ray Rohlfs, senior administrative pastor, told the Daily Southtown. "Our Communion is distributed using individual cups, and we will take care to handle this in a very sanitary way."

Rohlfs also said worshippers will be asked to "omit hand contact" and replace it with a verbal "Peace ne with you" gesture during the "Sharing of Peace segment" of the church services.

Here is the information that the District has posted on its web site:

Have there been any cases of Swine Flu in the District? Have there been a lot of students absent?

As of May 3rd, 2009, there have been no confirmed cases of Swine Flu with any Orland School District 135 students or staff members. However, after a conversation with the Cook County Board of Health, the District learned that a student at Orland Jr. High does have a very probable Swine Flu infection.

District Administration has been charting student attendance, and all ten schools have maintained the typical attendance rate in the 90th percentile.

What are symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. A lab test is required to tell whether a person has swine flu or some other condition.

What is the District doing to prevent the spread of swine flu in the schools?
The District’s procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus in the school buildings are:
cleaning and disinfecting washrooms;
cleaning and disinfecting locker rooms;
cleaning and disinfecting computer keyboards;
cleaning and disinfecting desktops;
cleaning and disinfecting door handles;
cleaning and disinfecting shared gym equipment; and

Continuing installation of special air cleaners which prevent the spread of 99.9% of flu viruses in the buildings.

As an additional precaution, the District has made hand wipes/sanitizing solution available at all schools for lunch and upon the children’s return to the classroom.

What can parents do to help their children avoid getting swine flu or spreading it?

Remind their children about proper hygiene.
Keep their children home from school if they have flu-like symptoms.
State if the child has flu-like symptoms when calling the student in absent to allow for the most accurate track of attendance patterns. If the parent does not state the reason for reporting the child's absence, the parent will receive a call from the school. The District is implementing the same procedures for staff members who call in to request a substitute teacher due to illness.

What is the District doing about children who have flu-like symptoms?

For parents who do report their child has flu-like symptoms, the maintenance staff has used the student’s schedule to do additional cleaning and disinfecting in the classrooms that student has visited. The staff is also doing special cleaning of common areas of Orland Jr. High.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of swine flu? Will the school close? Will the whole District close? How will parents be notified?

In the event the District has a confirmed case of the swine influenza at any of the schools, the school will be closed. However, following the Cook County Board of Health’s recommendation, the District is not closing Orland Jr. High for two reasons: the student has not been in the building since Wednesday, April 29th and attendance at the school has been at the normal 96% rate. Parents who have called their children in absent for sickness have not reported flu-like symptoms. If there are new confirmed cases of swine flu, or if the attendance rate drops at any of the schools due to children with flu-like symptoms, the school will be closed. The District does not intend to close all schools if the virus affects only certain buildings.

If a closing does occur, the District will use the automated calling system Voice Reach to notify parents. The same message will also be played on the District Information Hotline (708-364-3370). Letters may continue to be sent home, and also information will be posted on the District website and sent to e-news subscribers.

Who do I call for questions about swine flu?
· Parents who have questions about swine flu should contact the school nurse. Community members with questions about the District’s response should contact Community Relations Coordinator Bridget McGuiggan at 708/364-3335 or via email at
· For more information about swine flu, visit the Center for Disease Control at

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