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INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO:  127
POLICY CODE:  JLCC

TO:                             Superintendents of Schools, Principals and School Nurses

FROM:                       Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education
                                     Dora Anne Mills MD, MPH, Director
                                     Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, MDHHS

DATE:                        April 12, 2006

RE:                             Pandemic flu planning for schools

       With a strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus circulating among birds in many parts of the world and occasionally infecting people, Maine and other states are taking steps to prepare for a possible pandemic (worldwide outbreak) of this virus. 

       The Maine CDC (formerly Bureau of Health) is distributing new Federal funds for pandemic influenza preparedness to each hospital and county emergency management agency.  They will be convening stakeholders to develop county-wide plans by early August.  These plans will be exercised later this year.  School districts are named as important stakeholders.  The primary County Coordinator for each county will soon be named and will be posted by the Maine CDC on their website.  As county level planning gets underway, school districts will be encouraged to participate in the process. 

Schools may want to consider the following action steps regarding pandemic influenza preparedness:

  1. Use the School Preparedness Checklists found at www.pandemicflu.gov as guidance for your school’s pandemic preparedness planning.
  1. When County Pandemic Preparedness Coordinators are named, contact your County Coordinator to participate in your county’s planning efforts. 
  1. The State of Maine will soon be unveiling a new avian and pandemic influenza preparedness website.  Currently, information is posted at www.mainepublichealth.gov.
  1. Sign up for a weekly email newsletter with pandemic influenza and avian influenza updates by emailing Matt Chandler, the Maine CDC’s pandemic influenza coordinator at matthew.chandler@maine.gov.
  1. Sign up for the Maine pandemic influenza and avian influenza preparedness planning listserv by emailing Matt Chandler at matthew.chandler@maine.gov.

If you have further questions, the following resources may be helpful:
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

Avian Influenza Questions

SAG/DH