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In This Issue
Swine Flu and School Closings
Sports Safety Training
Cyber-Safety Legislation
Bus Stop Safety
School Violence Prevention
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Safety First        May  2009                                          Issue 1

Risk management is... a vital business process.
Swine Flu  threat brings school and health leadership together on closing issues and continuity
mask Local health authorities and school administrators continue to respond to a difficult situation with the emergence of Swine Flu.   

Dismissal and Childcare Facilities: Interim CDC Guidance in Response to Human Infections with the 2009 Influenza A H1N1 Virus

Late Friday afternoon, May 1, the Center for Disease Control posted a new page for school district closing.

Click here for the site

The CDC states, "If a school dismisses students or a childcare facility closes, schools and childcare facilities should close for up to 14 days depending on the extent and severity of the illness and in close consultation with local and state public health officials (additional guidance on duration of school closures will be provided no later than May 8)." 

CDC also states, "To reiterate an important point, decisions regarding school dismissal within these communities are being left to the appropriate authorities but must involve consultation with local and State public health officials, taking into account the extent and severity of H1N1 disease in the community. Schools (K - 12) and childcare facilities should also consult with their local or State health departments for guidance on re-opening schools."

The CDC noted,  "The authority for decisions regarding school dismissal and childcare closure may vary and resides in different sectors of State and local government including School Superintendents, Mayors, Governors, emergency management officials, and public health officials." 

Government Resources

Resources of Brokers and Others


School District Continuity Planning

Referring to the current emergence of the H1N1 virus, a major international insurance broker has the following comments posted on its website:

"A pandemic could escalate quickly, last for months, and infect 25% or more of the world's population, according to public health experts. Many organizations believe that at the peak of a severe pandemic, up to 75% of the workforce may be absent from work."

 These statements suggest that school districts face a contingent disruption risk to their operations if large businesses that supply services decide to temporarily suspend operations.  A business continuity decision by a major contractor for food service, transportation, fuel or energy systems could impact numerous schools and force closure even though local health officials have not recommended such action.

Steps School Districts Should Take

School districts should try to identify their weakest links - the critical points in their operations where staff back-up is limited or illness to key person may disrupt the supply chain. 

These are some other steps that should be taken based on recommendations of a leading business continuity services provider: 

  • Ensure business continuity management (BCM) plans include pandemic scenarios and exercise the plans where possible.
  • Review district policies on travel, on hygiene, and on anti-viral medications and health care support to ensure they are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and similar organizations.
  • In highly populated areas, ensure the BCM plans allow for staff to work at home where appropriate.
  • Consider if there are any vital processes that must be maintained in a pandemic, such as call centers, health services, and services vital to those most vulnerable.
  • Decide what other core functions need to be kept running if the organization becomes short staffed.

Upcoming graduation ceremonies may be in jeopardy if the H1N1 virus becomes widespread.  Schools may face unexpected costs, depending on rental contract agreements and availability of event cancellation insurance. 

Summer travel plans for teachers and performing groups may also be in jeopardy.   

Communication with staff and union officials is very important. The health and wellness of school faculty and staff health is a  vital concern in this situation.   The Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidance for workplace pandemic preparation. 

Click here for the OSHA site on Pandemic Preparation

New training law taking effect for sports coaches

     High school coaches in Kentucky should soon be better able to prevent common injuries among their athletes. A new measure, signed into law in March, says coaches must take a 10-hour course in sports safety, learning about first aid, emergency planning and recognition, illnesses related to heat and cold, and injuries of the head and neck.

Members of the Kentucky Medical Association designed the course. For the 2009-10 school year, the law says, at least one trained person will be at every high school sports practice and event.

"We think the new law's a very good thing," said Elden May, sports information director with the Kentucky High School Athletics Association. "It's designed to minimize risk and improve safety conditions, and anytime you do that, it's a good thing. We're working hard to be in compliance when the fall practice starts. Fall football practice in Kentucky begins July 15. May says there are thousands of Kentucky coaches who must complete the mandated medical training, take a test, and receive certification. The only possible way to handle so many people so quickly is through an on-line course.

Myron Thompson, director of risk management for the Kentucky School Boards Association Insurance Trust commented, "The legislation raises the stakes, so to speak. When you get too much regulation, it raises the potential for increased liability. I'm looking at the other side of the coin to make sure we haven't made things so stringent that coaches and school districts can't comply."  The final bill ended up being much less intrusive than the original legislation, Thompson said. He believes that overall, the law mandating safety training is a good thing for Kentucky's student athletes. His organization is going to be monitoring how the training proceeds, he said, "because we want to make sure we're being reasonable."

Kentucky isn't the only state trying to make student athletes safer. Oregon and Washington have passed legislation mandating training for coaches. North Carolina, Texas and New Jersey are researching the issue.

"I think there's a general move across the country to do something, usually in states where there has been a death," said Fred Mueller, director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injuries. The center is housed at the University of North Carolina.   "I think the Kentucky legislation is a good idea and a good beginning," Mueller said. "It's better to have athletic trainers at schools, but only about a third of them, nationwide, have them."

The Kentucky legislation was prompted by the heat-related death of a 15-year-old high school football player in Louisville last August.

The new law also directs the Athletics Association, with the Kentucky Department of Education, to conduct an investigation into sport safety, collecting data on sport-by-sport injuries and reporting requirements and oversight when injuries do happen. The committee is to report to the Kentucky legislature by the end of this October.

Senator wants to boost cyber-safety
A U.S. Senator from New Jersey is set to introduce legislation that would establish a nationwide Internet-safety grant program.  Sen. Robert Menendez outlined his proposal last week at George Washington Middle School, one of the first in New Jersey to begin a Teenangels program for peer-to-peer education on Internet safety.
Annual campaign promotes bus stop safety
school busMore than 2.3 million New York children take the bus to school each day, and it's estimated that nearly 50,000 vehicles illegally pass those buses.   A stopped school bus creates a very dangerous situation.

Last week, the  New York Association for Pupil Transportation conducted its annual awareness campaign called Operation Safe Stop Day. Transportation and police officials across the state reminded motorists to halt for stopped school buses. 

School Violence Prevention highlighted by Colorado Conference
School representatives and others from across the State of Colorado gathered for a day of safety training on the ten year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, April 20, 2009.

The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV), a research program of the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was founded in 1992 to provide informed assistance to groups committed to understanding and preventing violence, particularly adolescent violence.

In an effort to establish more complete and valuable information to impact violence-related policies, programs, and practices, CSPV works from a multi-disciplinary platform on the subject of violence and facilitates the building of bridges between the research community and the practitioners and policy makers.

"The longest way is a shortcut. "
We hope you find the Institute's newly updated website useful.  Please visit regularly and let us know how we can support your efforts to advance risk management.  Your input and feedback is greatly desired and appreciated.

Lee Gaby, Executive Director 
Public School Risk Institute
NEW Phone  (706) 715-3381