Early Education and Support Division
Subject: Information to Assist Programs in Planning for a Pandemic Influenza Emergency
Date: June 2009
Expires: Until Rescinded
Authority: California Education Code Section 32282(B) Disaster Procedures, Routine and Emergency, and Title 22, Section 101174 Disaster and Mass Casualty Plan
Attention: Executive Officers and Program Directors of All Child Care and Development Programs
The purpose of this Management Bulletin is to advise all child care and development programs of the need to be prepared for a disaster or pandemic emergency should such an event occur, and to provide programs with information to help in the planning and readiness process.
The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines an influenza pandemic as “a global disease outbreak,” stating, “an influenza outbreak occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide.” The California Department of Public Health defines pandemic flu as “a worldwide flu outbreak that occurs every few decades. Infection with the influenza virus will spread rapidly to affect most countries and regions around the world. Pandemic flu is likely to cause the same symptoms as ordinary flu but the symptoms may be more severe because nobody will have immunity or protection against that particular virus.”
In 2006, Michael Leavitt, former Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), wrote:
Pandemics are global in nature, but their impact is local. When the next pandemic strikes, as it surely will, it is likely to touch the lives of every individual, family, and community. Our task is to make sure that when this happens, we will be a nation prepared.
In response to the recent H1N1 influenza outbreak, the current Secretary of the HHS, Doctor Kathleen Sebelius, made the following statements at a May 18, 2009, presentation at the World Health Plenary Session in Geneva, Switzerland:
We know that there are things that everyone can do to reduce the risk of infection and have conducted a public campaign to inform Americans and help stop the spread of this virus. In times of crisis, clear, concise, accurate information is essential… We have worked closely with the World Health Organization and the international community, evaluating the threat the new influenza virus poses, sharing information about the spread of the disease within our borders, and coordinating our response.
In response to the possibility of a pandemic flu outbreak, e.g., the Avian flu, the California Department of Education (CDE) developed a Pandemic Flu Policy Manual. In the event of a pandemic flu emergency, the State’s health officer will inform the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to issue an order to close schools. If this happens, the CDE will take all possible steps to help limit the spread of a pandemic and mitigating disease. The CDE will immediately notify by e-mail and telephone county offices of education, the California State Special Schools, direct-funded charter schools, and state-funded child care centers. In the event of an emergency, the CDE, Early Education and Support Division (EESD), will contact all of its contracted agencies through its existing list serve, which includes contracts with child care centers and family child care home networks.
During the recent outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, (also known as swine flu). CDE remained in contact with officials from the California Department of Public Health. Through a series of letters, press releases, public events, and a special link on the CDE’s web site, the SSPI has kept schools and child care and development programs informed with up-to-date information about the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, and its effect on school attendance and necessary precautions to be taken. Since large numbers of children may be in close proximity with one another in child development programs, it is essential for programs to be prepared and to take effective precautions in the event of a pandemic flu emergency.
The California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Section 101174, requires that each licensed child care program develop a disaster and mass casualty plan.
Elements of a Plan to Address a Pandemic Flu
The EESD recommends child development contractors develop a plan addressing the steps to be taken before, during and after a pandemic occurs. Contractors should form a committee of staff members and parents to develop the plan. Elements to consider:
- Identify all of the ways a flu pandemic might affect your program and develop a plan of action to respond.
- Select a person to identify and monitor reliable sources of information concerning the flu pandemic.
- Develop and strengthen infection control policies and action steps to support the maintenance of good health practices.
- Develop a communication plan, using different means of communication (e.g., e-mail, telephone hotlines, local radio and cable TV stations, etc.).
Pursuant to California Education Code Section 8271, regarding emergency closures, if programs operating pursuant to contracts with CDE are asked to close by local health or medical officials, an application for days of emergency closure should be submitted to your Field Services Office Child Development Consultant along with a board-approved motion describing the days and reasons for closure. By following these procedures, contractors can obtain reimbursement for loss of funds due to an emergency closure.
Resources available to EESD contractors include:
- The CDE Flu Prevention Web page. This Web page link to resources will assist contractors in preparing for and responding to a pandemic emergency. This Web page contains resources and up-to-date information on the H1N1 influenza (swine flu).
Topics under this heading include:
- News releases and advisories.
- School closure guidance.
- Resources for schools, preschools and child care centers which contain sample flu notifications, flu prevention information tool kits, pandemic influenza planning checklists, and frequently asked questions and answers about pandemic flu.
- California Childcare Health Program
The California Childcare Health Program has prepared health and safety notes on preparing for pandemic flu in child care programs on a Web page, which contains information about pandemic flu response planning and other helpful Web pages posted on the California Child Care Health Program’s Web site .
- The California Department of Social Services Child Care Licensing Web site
has been updated and now includes links to information regarding the H1N1 influenza.
- California Department of Education Publications
The following publications and video are available for purchase through the CDE Press:
- Reducing Exceptional Stress & Trauma: Facilitator's Guide (Item #1316)
- Taking Charge: A Disaster Preparedness Guide for Child Care and Development Centers (Item #1255)
- Taking Charge: Coping with Disaster (Video) (Item #1230)
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact your assigned EESD Field Services Consultant.