Parent Handbook

Pandemic Protocol

(Updated October 2007)

What is a Pandemic?

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges that people have little or no immunity to and for which there may be no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person and causes serious illness. It can sweep across the country and around the world very quickly. It is hard to predict when the next flu pandemic will occur or how bad it will be.

Ways The Pandemic May Affect Our School:

A flu pandemic might affect our program as follows:

  • Staff may be home ill or need to look after a sick family member.
  • Children may become ill or even die.
  • The school may need to close in order to contain the spread of illness.
  • The school community and the community at large will need to deal with misinformation, fear, anxiety, rumors, as well as potentially, grief and loss.

School Plan:

  • Staff will check the children each day as they arrive for symptoms of illness. Any child or adult who is ill will not be allowed in school. Daily Health Checks observing the child at entry include:
    • Noticeable changes in behavior or appearance.
    • Skin rashes, itchy skin, itchy scalp, or (during a lice outbreak) nits.
    • Elevated body temperature (determined by taking the child’s temperature if a child feels warm).
    • Complaints of pain or of not feeling well; chills, cough, sore throat, head ache
    • Other signs or symptoms of illness such as drainage from eyes, watery eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, sore muscles.
    • Reported illness in child or family members, or injury of the child since last date the child attended school.
    • Children must stay out of the school setting until he or she has been without fever for a minimum of 24 hours, to prevent spreading illness to others.
  • Children must be kept in the library, away from other children until family arrives.
  • Notify Licensing of staffing/health situation and whether the school will close.
  • Staff are encouraged to get an annual flu shot.
  • Sick staff and students need to stay at home until their flu symptoms are gone and they are well enough to return to school or work.
  • The school will keep accurate records of when children or staff are sick/absent, including a record of the kind of illness that caused the absence such as vomiting/ diarrhea / temperature / breathing / chest / rashes / throat, etc.
  • The school will update the protocol to reflect current health/pandemic practices.

Prevention and the Best Health Practices:

  • Remind children and teachers to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand rubs, and make sure that supplies are available.
  • Encourage teachers and children to use soap and water to wash hands when hands are visibly soiled, or an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water are not available, and hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Encourage teachers to wash their hands to the extent possible between contacts with children, such as before meals, after assisting wiping the child’s nose or mouth, after touching objects such as tissues or surfaces soiled with saliva or nose drainage, after diaper changes, and after assisting a child with toileting.
  • Encourage teachers to wash the hands of infants and toddlers when the hands become soiled.
  • Encourage children to wash hands when their hands have become soiled. Teach children to wash hands for 15-20 seconds (long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” twice).
  • Oversee the use of alcohol-based hand rubs by children. Avoid using these on children with skin sensitivities and allergies. Rub hands thoroughly until the alcohol has dried, when using alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Keep alcohol-based hand rubs out of the reach of children to prevent unsupervised use. Ensure that sink locations and restrooms are stocked with soap, paper towels, clean towels.
  • Keep the environment clean and make sure that supplies are available.
  • Clean daily frequently touched surfaces, classroom materials, toys, and commonly shared items at least daily and when visibly soiled.
  • Use a household disinfectant labeled for activity against bacteria and viruses, a chlorine bleach solution of ¼ cup chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of cool water or vinegar water solution. (Keep disinfectants out of the reach of children.)
  • Remind children and teachers to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing.
  • Advise children and teachers to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue or arm when sneezing or coughing, and to put their used tissue in a wastebasket.
  • Make sure that tissues are available in all rooms, and common areas such as reading rooms, classrooms, and rooms where meals are provided.
  • Encourage teachers and children to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub as soon as possible, if they have sneezed or coughed on their hands.

In the Event of School Closure:

Internal Staff Communication will continue via email. Parent Communication will be by email. Updates on possible school closure/ health will be made each day. Student learning will be able continue at home with parents, following an emailed schedule of activities/work for the children.

Parent Planning:

Symptoms: Symptoms of flu include fever (usually high), headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea also can occur, but are much more common in children than adults.

Spread of the Flu: Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

  1. Notify the school immediately if you plan to have your child stay at home when he or she becomes ill.
  2. Have a “Plan B” for finding alternate care for their children if the program is closed during a flu pandemic and you need to still go to work. One options could be to develop a shared childcare plan with other parents/family and friends. Check community resources.
  3. Practice good hygiene and stay away from others when you are sick.  Be sure to model the correct behavior for your child. Remind children to:
    • Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze—have them throw the tissue away after they use it.
    • Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
    • Not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  4. Be ready for an emergency. Stock up on 2 weeks worth of water, non-perishable food supplies, emergency equipment and medicines, in case of retail shortages.
  5. Know your community and workplace plans. Find out what your elected officials / workplace / school / other community groups have prepared for a pandemic.
  6. Develop your own comprehensive family plan. What will you do if you become ill? What if both caregivers fall ill at the same time?

For More Information:

For more information about the flu, visit: www.vch.ca/flu

For more information about Vancouver/Richmond Community Health’s pandemic response plan, visit: www.vch.ca/pandemic
You may want to specifically refer to: Chapter 4, Infection Control & Chapter 5, Self Care.

Daycares /Preschools/Schools
Contact through the Chief Medical Health Officer at:
Chief Medical Health Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health
#800-601 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4C2
Phone: 604-714-5684
Fax: 604-731-2756

Federal Quarantine Service
24 hour federal quarantine service in British Columbia: 
604-317-17120

General office number for the federal quarantine service in British Columbia: 
604-666-2499

Language Services
Regional Coordinator Language Services
Cross Cultural Health & Diversity
Department of Employee Engagement
Employee Learning & Development
#1033-601 West Broadway
Vancouver BC, V5Z 4C2
Phone: 604-875-4111 ext. 61628
Fax: 604-875-4761

On Call Medical Health Officer Emergency Number Fraser Health Authority
604-527-4806

Medical Health Officers
CDC Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Vancouver/Richmond HSDA
604-714-5686

Fraser Health Authority
604-572-2621

BC Centre for Disease Control Main Switchboard
604-660-0584

Points of Contact for VCH School Districts School District 38, Richmond
604-668-6081

Other Emergency Numbers
Vancouver International Airport, Operations Supervisor (24/7)
604-276-6188

Vancouver International Airport, Emergency Manager
604-276-6563

BC Ambulance Service, Manager of Emergency Preparedness
250-953-3316 or 250-953-3243

Health Canada Quarantine Office (24/7)
604-317-1720

Poison Control
800-567-8911

Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) for chemical, radiological and nuclear emergencies
800-663-3456

Provincial Emergency Program (Victoria)
250-952-4854

Emergency Preparedness
250-952-1700

Non-Communicable Disease Epid. (Victoria)
250-952-1464

Director General, Ministry of Health (Victoria)
250-952-1731

Executive Director, Public Health Protection (Victoria)
250-952-3335

Canadian Blood Service (24 Hour on Call)
604-876-7219