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Pandemic Planning

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									Pandemic Planning Questions and Answers
Pandemic Planning ..................................................................................... 3 Does our school have to develop a Pandemic Plan? ............................ 3 What are the benefits of developing a Pandemic Plan? ....................... 3 How does our school develop a Pandemic Plan?................................. 3 What should our school do now to prepare for an influenza pandemic?3 What are the challenges in planning for a pandemic? ......................... 4 Will the Education Review Office (ERO) include Pandemic Planning as part of their standard reviews? .................................................................... 4 We have completed our Pandemic Plan and would like to share our experience with other organisations in the education sector, what can we do? ....................................................................................................... 4 Understanding Influenza Pandemics ............................................................ 4 What is an influenza pandemic? ........................................................ 4 What is influenza? ............................................................................ 5 Who can be infected by an influenza? ............................................... 5 How likely is an influenza pandemic? ................................................. 5 How often do pandemics occur? ....................................................... 5 What caused them? ......................................................................... 5 Can a pandemic be averted? ............................................................. 5 Is there a vaccine available for an influenza pandemic? ...................... 5 What could happen in New Zealand if there is a pandemic? ................ 6 How many people could get sick or die if a pandemic virus reaches New Zealand? ......................................................................................... 6 How will the New Zealand health system cope with a pandemic? ........ 6 How will New Zealanders get treatment or health advice in a pandemic? 6 What are the phases of a pandemic?................................................. 6 Stage 1 Planning (prepare and standby) alert code White/Yellow ........ 6 Stage 2 Border Management (keep it out) alert code Red ................... 7 Stage 3 Cluster Control (stamp it out) alert code Red ......................... 7 Stage 4 Pandemic Management (manage it) alert code Red ............... 7 Stage 5 Recovery - alert code Green ................................................. 7 Overall Influenza Pandemic Management Strategy and Associated Actions .... 7 Where can I go for more information about pandemic influenza? ........ 8 Student and Staff Health ............................................................................ 9 What are the symptoms of influenza and how can we tell if a student or staff member is infectious? ...................................................................... 9 We have many overseas students on the roll. What should we be telling those who are planning to visit, or have just returned from, their home countries? ....................................................................................................... 9 How can we keep students and staff safe from infection? ................... 9 What should students and staff members do at home to deal with an influenza pandemic? ......................................................................... 9 Can schools do anything to prevent students and staff members getting the flu? ............................................................................................... 10 Will New Zealand stop travellers from coming into the country in an effort to stop the spread of disease? ............................................................ 10 Roles and Responsibilities ......................................................................... 10

What is expected of schools and other education service providers?.. 10 What does the legislation say? ........................................................ 10 Who will be in charge if there is a pandemic in New Zealand?........... 12 What authority do District Health Boards or Public Health Services have? 12 What is the Ministry of Education's relationship with health authorities as they will be driving pandemic management, especially at the local level? .. 12 What is the command structure? Does Civil Defence run the pandemic response? Is a pandemic classified differently to a civil defence emergency? ..................................................................................................... 12 Is our school liable for disruptions to business caused by a pandemic?12 What are the implications around staff sick leave? ........................... 12 School Closures and Notification ............................................................... 13 Why prevent public gatherings and close schools? ........................... 13 What does closure mean? ............................................................... 13 How will we know when there is a pandemic in New Zealand? .......... 13 How is a pandemic declared? .......................................................... 13 Who makes the decision to close Schools, Early Childhood Education services and tertiary education organisations? .............................................. 13 How will we know if our school has been closed? ............................. 13 How do we communicate with our students and staff if we are closed?13 Government Action .................................................................................. 14 What is the New Zealand Government doing to prepare for an influenza pandemic? ..................................................................................... 14 Ministry of Education Action ...................................................................... 14 What is the Ministry of Education doing for pandemic planning? ....... 14 What was Exercise Cruickshank? ..................................................... 15 What did the Ministry of Education learn from participating in Exercise Cruickshank? ................................................................................. 15 Who is guiding the work of the Ministry of Education? ...................... 15 Where can I get more information about the Ministry's Pandemic Planning Programme? .................................................................................. 16 Share your Story ............................................................................ 16 The Bird Flu ......................................................................................... 16 What is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)? ................................................. 16 Is Avian Influenza transmissible to humans? .................................... 16 What are Avian Influenza symptoms in humans? ............................. 16 Why are health authorities concerned about Avian Influenza? ........... 16 Who will decide if the world is having an Avian Flu pandemic? .......... 17 More Information ..................................................................................... 17 Where do I go to access the Pandemic Planning Kit and other resources? 17 Share your Story ............................................................................ 17 Are there any published articles related to pandemic planning?......... 17 Early Childhood Education .............................................................. 17 Schools ......................................................................................... 17 Where can I go to access more information about influenza pandemics? 17 Where do I go for more information about viruses? ......................... 18

Pandemic Planning
Does our school have to develop a Pandemic Plan? Yes. Early childhood education services, schools and tertiary organisations are expected to develop their own pandemic plans to protect students, staff, and the delivery of education services. In most cases this will involve reviewing and updating existing emergency management plans to include a pandemic influenza section. Remember, developing a Pandemic Plan is not just about your school. It is about you, your family/whanau, friends, and your community. By developing a plan ahead of an outbreak you can lessen the impact of a pandemic on both your school and your loved ones. What are the benefits of developing a Pandemic Plan? By planning in advance, your school will be better equipped to deal with a pandemic outbreak and, as a result, reduce the spread of the virus amongst your students, staff members, family/whanau, friends and community. An influenza pandemic will definitely happen one day - it could be next year, next week or even tomorrow! Therefore planning for a pandemic needs to be undertaken as soon as possible. Planning for a pandemic can also be viewed as an opportunity to refine your school's contingency/emergency planning in case of a crisis - regardless of whether or not it is a health related crisis. This is because many of the tasks involved in preparing for a pandemic can also be used for crisis management planning. How does our school develop a Pandemic Plan? The Ministry of Education has developed a Pandemic Planning Kit to assist education organisations to create their own plans. The Kit includes a step-by-step guide in the format of an Action Plan template, supporting documents such as posters, forms and guidelines; and a wide range of other material to support the development and implementation of your school's pandemic plan. The Pandemic Planning Kits is available on the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning. What should our school do now to prepare for an influenza pandemic? 1. Appoint a Pandemic Manager 2. Visit the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning and use the Pandemic Planning Kit to complete your school's pandemic plan. 3. Place posters on `How to Wash Your Hands' (available on the Ministry of Education website) around the school. 4. Talk to the school students, parents and staff about the school's Pandemic Plan. 5. Allocate an isolation room. 6. Make sure your school has an emergency survival kit. Plan for having about a week's worth of essential supplies such as non-perishable food, as well as plenty of fluids. For further information see the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website at www.civildefence.govt.nz on `What to do in a disaster'. Make sure you include paracetamol or ibuprofen (for fever) and lots of paper towels in the emergency survival kit. 7. Rehearse the Pandemic Plan.

What are the challenges in planning for a pandemic? It is important to remember that no one knows when, or how severe, an influenza outbreak might be. While planning for a pandemic we can consider some of the challenges we may face. Some examples are: o society should aim to continue as normally as possible while operating in an environment of social distancing o a pandemic may not follow predicted patterns and it may occur in waves o schools and workplaces will need to try and operate in spite of a high proportion of student and staff absenteeism due to sickness or having to look after sick family members or dependents o good hygiene will be essential to contain the spread of the pandemic o good communication will be difficult during a pandemic, but essential as people may feel isolated. Will the Education Review Office (ERO) include Pandemic Planning as part of their standard reviews? Yes. ERO will be checking that each Early Childhood Education service, or School has developed a Pandemic Plan when they conduct their school reviews. We have completed our Pandemic Plan and would like to share our experience with other organisations in the education sector, what can we do? o Consider holding a meeting with other education providers within your cluster or region in order to share your experiences and help guide others with their planning o Contact your local media and let them know the contribution your school is making to reduce the impact of a pandemic on the community o Place your school's pandemic plan on your website to reassure students, parents and the community that you have an action plan o Email the Ministry of Education and tell us about your experience. We would love to hear what you have done. We may do a feature article on your school in one of our newsletters or publications. Just email an outline of your pandemic planning experience to us at pandemic.mailbox@minedu.govt.nz.

Understanding Influenza Pandemics
What is an influenza pandemic? An influenza pandemic occurs when a new strain of influenza virus emerges, spreading around the world and infecting many people in a very short period of time. An influenza virus capable of causing a pandemic is one in which people have no natural immunity to and can easily spread from person to person. It may cause severe disease and many deaths. An influenza pandemic could occur at any time (not just winter). Is an influenza pandemic only limited to an outbreak of the Bird Flu? No. A pandemic situation can occur as a result of an outbreak of any virus. In recent years a number of schools have had to close in New Zealand due to a pandemic caused by an outbreak of the flu. This means that pandemic planning must be undertaken regardless of the risk of a Bird Flu.

What is influenza? Influenza (the flu) is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. It is much more serious than a common cold and will leave you ill for up to 10 days. Symptoms of the flu start suddenly and include: o a high fever o headache o muscle aches and pains o fatigue o cough o sore throat, or o a runny nose. Influenza can be a mild or severe illness depending on the type of influenza virus causing it, and the age and general health of the person affected. It may take up to three days to show symptoms when you catch the flu. Who can be infected by an influenza? Anyone can get influenza - being fit, active and healthy does not protect you from getting this virus. The influenza kills at least 100 New Zealanders every year, including some young, fit people. How likely is an influenza pandemic? It is certain an influenza pandemic will happen one day. There are many viruses circulating in some countries at present. One of these, the H5N1, could become a pandemic influenza virus at any time if it changes so it can be easily spread from human to human. It is important schools undertake pandemic planning so they are well prepared in advance of an influenza pandemic. How often do pandemics occur? There were three influenza pandemics last century, in 1918, 1956-57 and 1968. What caused them? All three pandemics last century were caused by different types of bird flu viruses. Can a pandemic be averted? No one knows for sure. Influenza viruses are highly unstable and difficult to predict. However, health authorities such as the World Health Organization remain optimistic that if the right actions are taken quickly, an influenza pandemic can be averted. o Infection Control Fact Sheet o Hand Hygiene Fact Sheet Is there a vaccine available for an influenza pandemic? The Ministry of Health has a formal arrangement with Australia's CSL Ltd - the only influenza vaccine manufacturer in the Southern Hemisphere. CSL Ltd gives us a guaranteed supply if we need a pandemic vaccine. However, manufacture of such a vaccine can only start once they know the exact type of virus causing the pandemic, and so a vaccine is not currently available. New Zealand has ordered 8 million doses of the vaccine, two doses per person in our population. Vaccination involves a course of two doses per person. It will take up to six months to develop a vaccine from the time the virus is identified. This helps to explain why a key initial strategy in combating a pandemic is to "keep it out" for as long as possible once it has appeared overseas.

What could happen in New Zealand if there is a pandemic? A pandemic could mean so many people are sick that it will affect workplaces, schools, hospitals and many other services. Some workplaces and schools may close. Normal health and other services may not be available for several weeks. You may be asked to care for yourself and others at home. There would be public announcements on TV, the radio and through other media channels that there is an influenza pandemic and information about what to do and where to go for help. How many people could get sick or die if a pandemic virus reaches New Zealand? Until a pandemic develops and the nature of any disease in New Zealand becomes known there is no way to know how many people may get ill or die. For planning purposes the New Zealand Government has developed a standard planning model based on the impact a 1918-size influenza pandemic could have on the present day population. This model indicates that up to about 1.6 million people could become ill over an 8 week period, with about 33,000 deaths over that time. It is very important to emphasise that this is not a prediction or a forecast of what will happen. The planning model was developed from historical data to provide a consistent set of figures around which to develop response and contingency plans, and it is important that our planning considers the possibility of a very severe future pandemic. There is no way to predict what will happen ahead of time, and it is entirely possible that a future pandemic could be much less severe than that outlined in the planning model. How will the New Zealand health system cope with a pandemic? There is no doubt that in a severe pandemic, hospitals and primary care practitioners such as GPs will find it difficult to deal with large numbers of people with the flu. The Ministry of Health is considering and planning for other possible options such as community assessment centres for people with the flu. People may also be asked to look after each other at home and given information about how best to do so. How will New Zealanders get treatment or health advice in a pandemic? This will depend on the severity of the pandemic and how many people it affects. If you are sick you may be asked to phone your local doctor or nurse for advice, rather than visiting a waiting room and potentially spreading germs. The Ministry of Health is also investigating the possibility of setting up community assessment centres, where people who are sick with influenza go to be assessed. You will also be able to ring the national free 24-hour health advice number, Healthline (0800 611 116). This line is staffed by registered nurses. Many people may be asked to care for themselves and their family members at home. What are the phases of a pandemic? New Zealand pandemic planning is based around the World Health Organisation's (WHO) five phases of a pandemic. The `alert codes' will signal a shift from one stage to the next. Stage 1 Planning (prepare and standby) alert code White/Yellow Goal: Plan to reduce the health, social and economic impact of a pandemic in New Zealand Trigger: Current stage

Stage 2 Border Management (keep it out) alert code Red Goal: Keep pandemic influenza out of New Zealand. Trigger: Human-to-human transmission overseas, or Australia and/or Singapore close borders. Stage 3 Cluster Control (stamp it out) alert code Red Goal: Control and/or eliminate any clusters that may be found in New Zealand. Trigger: Human pandemic strain case/s found in New Zealand Stage 4 Pandemic Management (manage it) alert code Red Goal: Reduce the impact of pandemic influenza on New Zealand's population. Trigger: Multiple (>10) clusters at separate locations, or clusters spreading out of control. Stage 5 Recovery - alert code Green Goal: Expedite the recovery of population health where impacted by the pandemic, pandemic management measures, or disruption to normal services. Trigger: population protected by vaccination or pandemic abated in New Zealand.

Overall Influenza Pandemic Management Strategy and Associated Actions
Ministry of Health (MoH) / District STAGE NZ STRATEGY Health Board (DHB) ALERT CODE 1 Plan for it WHITE (Planning) (Information / advisory) OBJECTIVE AND ACTION Objective: devise a plan to reduce the health, social and economic impact of a pandemic on New Zealand __Full engagement of whole of government __Consultation with and input from many agencies Prepare to implement pandemic response action plans Objective: keep pandemic out of New Zealand Wide range of border management options: - closure of New Zealand's border to all non-nationals - quarantine of all returning New Zealand citizens Enhance internal disease surveillance and notification Investigate and follow up any suspect cases

2

Keep it out (Border Management)

YELLOW (Standby) RED (Activation)1

1

The transition from Code White to Red could be quite quick (that is, the Code yellow stage could be short).

3

Objective: control and/or eliminate any clusters that might be found in New Zealand Isolate and treat patients and households Contact trace and treat all contacts Restrict movement into/out of affected area(s) MoH directs regional closure of education organisations to children and students, closes other places where people congregate, and prohibits mass gatherings Maintain border management 4 Manage it Objective: to reduce the impact of (Pandemic pandemic influenza on New Management) Zealand's population Health service reconfiguration to support community response in affected areas MoH directs national closure of education organisations to children and students, closes other places where people congregate, and prohibits mass gatherings Social distancing measures Support for people cared for at home, and their families 5 Recover from it GREEN Objective: expedite the recovery (Recovery) (Stand down) of population health where impacted by pandemic, pandemic management measures, or disruption to normal services Phase starts when the population is protected by vaccination, or the pandemic abates in New Zealand The decisions to move from Code White to Yellow, from Yellow to Red and from Red to Green, will be made by the Ministry of Health which will notify the public through its website and the media. Where can I go for more information about pandemic influenza? The Ministry of Health website is an excellent source of information about the different types of influenza and what the government is doing to prepare for a pandemic. Visit: www.moh.govt.nz

Stamp it out (Cluster Control)

Student and Staff Health
What are the symptoms of influenza and how can we tell if a student or staff member is infectious? People showing signs of influenza infection should be treated in the same way that they would be treated in normal circumstances. Use the `Pandemic Screening Checklist' included in the Pandemic Planning Kit as a guide. The Pandemic Planning Kit is available on the Ministry of Education website at: www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning o Difference between influenza and common cold We have many overseas students on the roll. What should we be telling those who are planning to visit, or have just returned from, their home countries? Overseas students should follow closely the advice for travellers issued by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There are some basic precautions people should take when travelling to areas affected by a pandemic. For the latest updates check the following websites: Ministry of Health advice for travellers at: www.moh.govt.nz and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice for travellers at: www.mfat.govt.nz. How can we keep students and staff safe from infection? The Ministry of Health advises all homes, businesses and education providers to: o Develop a plan - including identifying people to help in the event of an outbreak. o Have an emergency supplies kit - including food, water and paracetamol. o Brush up on hygiene practices - particularly hand washing and drying and cough and sneeze `etiquette'. Read the `How to Clean your School during a Pandemic' document included in the Ministry of Education Pandemic Planning Kit at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning or visit the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.govt.nz for a full list of measures you can take to prepare for a pandemic. o Infection Control Fact Sheet o Hand Hygiene Fact Sheet What should students and staff members do at home to deal with an influenza pandemic? o Stay home if they are sick and keep away from other people -- avoid visitors and visiting others. o Wash and dry their hands before handling food, after coughing, sneezing, using the bathroom, wiping or nose-blowing and when looking after sick people. o Keep coughs and sneezes covered. Tissues are best. Put the tissue in a rubbish bin. o Give plenty of drinking water to people who have a fever and/or diarrhea. o Include paracetamol or ibuprofen (for fever) in their home emergency survival kit.

Can schools do anything to prevent students and staff members getting the flu? Every year students and staff members should consider being vaccinated against the flu. As the influenza virus changes frequently, a new vaccine against the new virus is made every year. To get immunity to the new virus students and staff members will need to get the new vaccine. The flu is very easily spread by sick people who cough and sneeze. To reduce the chances of getting the flu there are also things students and staff members can do, such as ensuring good health hygiene habits. There is a `How to Wash Your Hands' poster available for download on the Ministry of Education website as part of the Pandemic Planning Kit at: www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning. It is recommended you print this off and place it around the school. If a student or staff member has the flu, they should stay home from school, avoid public places and close contact with others. If they already have the flu, they should always cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue and wash their hands afterwards. o Infection Control Fact Sheet o Hand Hygiene Fact Sheet o `How to Wash your Hands' poster 1 o `How to Wash your Hands' poster 2 Will New Zealand stop travellers from coming into the country in an effort to stop the spread of disease? The details of how New Zealand would manage its borders in the event of a pandemic are still being worked through. Because we are an island nation, active management of the border - ranging from partial restrictions to full closure - needs to be considered among the range of options as we plan our response. Other countries are also considering this issue. Any final decision on border management will be made by the government with input from a range of government departments.

Roles and Responsibilities
What is expected of schools and other education service providers? Early childhood education services, schools and tertiary organisations are expected to develop their own pandemic plans to protect students, staff, and the delivery of education services. In most cases this will involve reviewing and updating existing emergency management plans, to include a pandemic influenza section. The Ministry of Education has developed a Pandemic Planning Kit to assist education organisations to create their own pandemic plans. The Pandemic Planning Kit is available on the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning. What does the legislation say? Education Act 1989 The Education Act 1989 gives principals and boards powers to exclude particular students and staff or to close their school in certain circumstances: o Section 19 provides that a principal may exclude a student who may have a communicable disease (communicable diseases are specified in the Schedule to the Act. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or `bird flu' (HPAI subtype

H5N1) was added on 12 February 2004. In practice, schools would generally proceed subject to advice received from health authorities. o Section 65E provides that a board may close a school in an emergency such as an epidemic. o The Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases) Regulations place duties on schools, teachers and parents in the case of a pandemic. o Regulation 14 provides that schools must exclude teachers and students who have an infectious disease. Careful exercise of all these powers will be especially important in the "stamp it out" stage. Any decision by the board chair and principal to close the school should be based on advice from health authorities. Though schools in an affected area may be closed to students, schools in unaffected areas will be expected to maintain normal services. Ill-advised action such as an unnecessary closure would make life very difficult for the wider community. Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 In addition to requirements under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, pandemic planning will help schools ensure they meet their obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, including: Section 6: All practicable steps o "Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to: - provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment - provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health..." Section 28: Employees may refuse to perform work likely to cause serious harm - "An employee may refuse to do work if the employee believes that the work that the employee is required to perform is likely to cause serious harm to him or her...." Crimes Act Schools have legal and moral responsibilities under the Crimes Act and these would continue to apply in a pandemic emergency. For example, imagine that a cluster outbreak is declared in Wellington in the morning. By the afternoon public gatherings are banned, education facilities are closed to students and public transport ceases to operate. Many people are trapped in the city and cannot get home easily. Your school finds that eight of its 400 students have not been collected by a parent. The moral requirement is obvious. You cannot leave the students at the school and go home. Legal requirements in this situation are in: o Section 151 - Duty without lawful excuse to provide the necessaries of life. This would apply to all persons who have de facto charge of other persons and that includes teachers. This section makes the person in charge criminally responsible for omitting without lawful excuse to provide the `necessaries of life' to a person if death or injury occurs or the person's life is endangered. o Section 154 - Abandoning a child under six years is a criminal offence but it is strict liability, that is, no injury or death has to occur, the trigger for liability is the act of abandonment itself. In this scenario the school principal would need to do all that he or she could be expected to do to ensure that the eight children were appropriately cared for.

Who will be in charge if there is a pandemic in New Zealand? The Government will ensure there is an appropriate response from all agencies involved. The Ministry of Health will take the lead in all national health-related matters. What authority do District Health Boards or Public Health Services have? Medical Officers of Health or their designates have powers to close public facilities, including education facilities in events such as a pandemic. It is very likely that health authorities will activate closure procedures for educational facilities in their area, thus taking the responsibility from individual Early Childhood Education services, schools and tertiary education organisations. This may occur on a regional basis in the "stamp it out" phase and on a national basis at the "manage it" phase of a pandemic. What is the Ministry of Education's relationship with health authorities as they will be driving pandemic management, especially at the local level? The Ministry of Health leads the all-of-government planning and response to a pandemic in New Zealand. Medical Officers of Health appointed by the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, or local Health Board Emergency Planners have the power to prohibit public gatherings, including gatherings in offices and schools. Medical Officers of Health will close gathering places once a cluster or national outbreak of pandemic influenza occurs. The Ministry of Education must follow their advice. What is the command structure? Does Civil Defence run the pandemic response? Is a pandemic classified differently to a civil defence emergency? New Zealand has adopted an all-of-government approach to pandemic planning and response. Government agencies have engaged in joint planning for a pandemic, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. On a local level, communities are planning collaboratively (e.g. Ministry of Education, District Health Boards, Police, Territorial Local Authority, Civil Defence Emergency Management, welfare organisations, Child Youth and Family etc) for a co-ordinated response. The District Health Board, local Public Health Service, Territorial Local Authority, or Civil Defence Emergency Management would normally lead this planning. Education providers are encouraged to work in with local planning for their region and contact their District Health Nurse or local Health Board Emergency Planner. Other civil defence emergencies would normally involve interagency planning and response as well. Is our school liable for disruptions to business caused by a pandemic? It is each school's responsibility to clarify its insurance provider's policies around pandemic influenza. What are the implications around staff sick leave? Best practice guidance to State Services employers on pandemic planning issues is provided on the State Services Commission website. Individual agencies will need to determine for themselves how best to address the issues in their workplace. The Ministry of Education has summarised the position for state sector employees such as teachers in state and state-integrated schools and kindergartens in the `Assumptions' section of the Pandemic Planning Guide and Pandemic Action Plan.

School Closures and Notification
Why prevent public gatherings and close schools? During the 1957-1958 pandemic a World Health Organisation panel found that spread of the influenza within some countries followed public gatherings, such as conferences and festivals. This panel also observed that in many countries the pandemic broke out first in camps, army units and schools. During the first wave of the Asian influenza pandemic of 1957-1958 the highest attack rates were in school-age students. A recently published study found that during an influenza outbreak school closures were associated with significant decreases in the incidence of viral respiratory diseases and the need to access health care among students aged 6-12 years. What does closure mean? Closing schools to students would not necessarily mean that facilities would be closed in a quarantine sense. Staff may still go to work, work remotely, or carry out `alternative duties' for other agencies with their board's pre-approval. Facilities may also be used for alternative purposes such as Community Based Assessment Centres (CBAC). The Education Act 1989 gives principals and boards powers to exclude particular students and staff or to close their school in certain circumstances. See information under the heading `Roles and Responsibilities'. How will we know when there is a pandemic in New Zealand? Like the general public, Early Childhood Education services, schools and tertiary education organisations are likely to learn of a pandemic via the media. However, if a particular education organisation has to be closed due to a pandemic, the Ministry of Education will be notified by the Ministry of Health, District Health Board or Public Health Service and will, in turn, notify the school affected directly. o Stages of a Pandemic How is a pandemic declared? By the Minister of Health via the media including radio/TV/newspapers/ and internet news media. Who makes the decision to close Schools, Early Childhood Education services and tertiary education organisations? Though under the Education Act and Health Regulations governors and managers of Early Childhood Education services, schools and tertiary education organisations have the legal power to close their education operation, it is expected that schools will consult with local health authorities through their local Medical Officer of Health and such a decision would be made in consultation with them. How will we know if our school has been closed? The Ministry of Education will telephone your school Principal and inform them that the District Health Board has closed your school. In addition, the status of all school closures will be featured on the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning. How do we communicate with our students and staff if we are closed? During a pandemic all correspondence with staff, students, parents and the community may need to take a different form than usual. Consider the following communication methods:o Text Messaging

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Standard Postal Service or Courier Service Signs on the School Gate A Message Board on the School Website Email broadcasts Fax broadcasts Telephone Audio Conferencing (see your telephone service provider) Broadcast Phone Messages (see your telephone service provider) Notices via the media e.g. community newspapers, radio Message on School Answer phone Professional Call Centre Services - inbound and outbound calls Communication Guidelines Support Material - Forms Support Material - Health and Hygiene Support Material - Letters and Notices

Government Action
What is the New Zealand Government doing to prepare for an influenza pandemic? New Zealand has been planning for an influenza pandemic for some years. o The Ministry of Health has a `national pandemic plan' which is continually being updated in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. District Health Boards have local plans too. o All other Government agencies are also planning for a pandemic. An intersectoral group is considering non-health issues that are directly affected by a pandemic, such as potential school closures, border management and the maintenance of critical infrastructure, including supply of food and water and law and order. o The New Zealand Government, following the advice of the WHO, is stockpiling anti-viral medicine (Tami flu) suitable for use against influenza viruses, in a volume equivalent to 21% of the population. No decision on the best use of this stockpile will be made by Government until the nature of the next pandemic is known. o The Ministry of Health has set up a Pandemic Influenza Technical Advisory Group (PITAG), which advises the Ministry on the international situation and provides recommendations on the appropriate nature of New Zealand's responses. o There is also a Pandemic Influenza Reference Committee (PIRC), with members from across the health sector.

Ministry of Education Action
What is the Ministry of Education doing for pandemic planning? The Ministry of Education is leading pandemic planning for the education sector. The ministry's planning focuses on three key work streams: o provision of workplace safety measures and policies to protect people o development of business continuity plans to minimise the impact of a pandemic on the ministry and the sector and ensure our ability to continue to operate for as long as practicable without compromising safety o provision of information and resources to help education agencies and providers to develop their own pandemic plans.

The Ministry of Education currently has a project running that is preparing the education sector for a possible pandemic influenza outbreak. This Question and Answer document, the Pandemic Planning Kit for Schools and information on the Ministry of Education website are just some of the initiatives that have been implemented as a result of this project. What was Exercise Cruickshank? In May 2007 the Ministry of Education, along with three schools and two early childhood centres, participated in Exercise Cruickshank. Exercise Cruickshank was a mock rehearsal to test the whole of government's readiness for a pandemic. It was the largest exercise of its kind attempted in New Zealand, with 21 district health boards and over 30 government agencies involved. What did the Ministry of Education learn from participating in Exercise Cruickshank? Exercise Cruickshank gave the Education sector an opportunity to put in to practice the pandemic processes and procedures it has been fine-tuning over the past year. As a result of careful planning and forward thinking, the Education sector performed well in the exercise. Exercise Cruickshank reinforced the importance of planning for a pandemic. In fact the procedures that were most successful were those that had already been rehearsed prior to the mock pandemic outbreak. There were a number of key learnings from Exercise Cruickshank which we want to share with you so you can build these learnings into your pandemic planning. The key learnings are as follows:1. Ensure all your staff know what to do during a pandemic, including your caretaker, canteen supervisor and other support staff. 2. Ensure after-school activities have a contingency plan in case of a pandemic. 3. Make sure you have sufficient back-ups for key positions within your school. 4. Identify who your local Health authority contact is so you know who to talk to if the Medical Officer of Health closes your school due to a pandemic. 5. Ensure you know how you will communicate with staff and parents during a pandemic. 6. Make sure your isolation facilities are suitable and you have enough resources such as paper towels. 7. Rehearse your plan by having your own version of an `Exercise Cruickshank'. 8. Be prepared. A pandemic outbreak can happen at any time. It could be next year or it could be tomorrow! Who is guiding the work of the Ministry of Education? A ministry Pandemic Steering Group of senior managers has been established to guide the ministry's pandemic planning. The Steering Group is chaired by Deputy Secretary, People and Business Capability. A project team reports through to this Steering Group to develop and implement initiatives to support the education sector before, during and after a pandemic. The project team works closely with education agencies and sector representative groups such as the Schools Consultative Committee and the Early Childhood Advisory Committee.

The project team will continue to keep the education sector informed of initiatives developed and implemented through via the Ministry of Education website, email broadcasts, Ed Online and other ministry newsletters. Where can I get more information about the Ministry's Pandemic Planning Programme? Visit the Ministry of Education website and go to the Ministry of Education's Pandemic Planning Programme. Share your Story If you have completed your school's pandemic plan and are prepared to share your experiences with other schools, we would love to hear from you. Please email an outline of what your school has done to prepare for a pandemic to pandemic.mailbox@minedu.govt.nz.
The Bird Flu

What is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)? There are many types of influenza virus, some of which infect other animals including birds. The viruses that infect birds are avian influenza viruses. Very rarely, an avian influenza virus can also infect people. One of these viruses - H5N1- has infected some people who have caught it from having close contact with infected birds Avian influenza can cause severe flu-like symptoms in people and may result in death. It has not been shown for sure that anyone has caught avian influenza from another person. If this has happened it has been very rare. There are currently no commercially available vaccines that will protect people against disease caused by H5N1. Is Avian Influenza transmissible to humans? Yes, very rarely, an avian influenza virus can also infect people. The current avian influenza virus - H5N1 - has infected some people who have caught it from having close contact with infected birds. Since December 2003, widespread outbreaks of H5N1 in birds in Asian countries have been associated with human cases and deaths in Asia. For more information on avian influenza and the significance of its transmission to humans, see the World Health Organization website at: www.who.int. What are Avian Influenza symptoms in humans? The exact symptoms, incubation period and duration of avian influenza in people are not known, because there have not been enough cases. Generally the symptoms are similar to those for people infected with human influenza virus, although the severity of the illness may differ. Symptoms generally appear three to seven days after exposure and can last up to seven days. Why are health authorities concerned about Avian Influenza? The World Health Organization is worried that an avian influenza virus might change so that it has the ability to easily spread from person to person, or mix with a human influenza virus resulting in a new strain of influenza virus that can do this. This could trigger an influenza pandemic.

Who will decide if the world is having an Avian Flu pandemic? The World Health Organization (WHO) will determine when a virus such as the avian flu virus is spreading from human to human in sufficient numbers to constitute a pandemic. Many governments and the WHO have intensive surveillance programmes to track the spread of avian flu. This programme will provide global early warning of human infections so Governments can begin implementing "pandemic alert" phases designed to track the progress of the disease spread nationally. For more information, see the WHO website at: www.who.int.

More Information
Where do I go to access the Pandemic Planning Kit and other resources? Visit the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/pandemicplanning. Share your Story If you have completed your school's pandemic plan and are prepared to share your experiences with other schools, we would love to hear from you. Please email an outline of what your school has done to prepare for a pandemic to pandemic.mailbox@minedu.govt.nz. Are there any published articles related to pandemic planning? Yes - there are a number of interesting articles about pandemic planning, as follows:Early Childhood Education Pitopito Korero article related to pandemic planning, see page 8: Planning Kit to help ECE services beat flu threat Schools Education Gazette articles related to pandemic planning: o Being prepared is everything o Get your pandemic planning underway (notice in Board View) o Clean Hands, Healthy Body o In the pink at Rangikura School o Pandemic influenza planning (notice in Principal View) o Operation Polio 1948 - published in NATIONAL EDUCATION April 1, 1948 this describes how the then Education Department supported distance learning when schools were closed for two months during the polio pandemic. o Influence of school closure on the incidence of viral respiratory diseases among children and on health care utilization. This article published in The Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Vol.23, Number 7, July 2004, describes a study that provides quantitative evidence to support school closure to reduce the spread of influenza during an influenza pandemic. Where can I go to access more information about influenza pandemics? There are a wide range of websites featuring information about influenza pandemics which you may find useful. Some of these websites are listed below:o Ministry of Health - for background information about pandemic influenza, National Health Emergency Plan, pandemic preparedness, planning, and latest updates. o Department of Labour has guidelines which may help you decide on appropriate personal protective equipment to protect staff and children in

your school and an article about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and practices and influenza pandemic preparedness o World Health Organisation - for updates of the global situation, pandemic stages, fact sheets. o Coastal Health Vancouver - outlines a Pandemic Influenza Response Plan with chapters for private sector organisation planning, local government planning and self-care, other topics, and user-friendly "hand-outs". o Centre for Disease Control and Prevention - background information about avian influenza, how it is spread, vaccines, outbreak information, travel advice and professional guidance. Where do I go for more information about viruses? For more information about viruses including the Avian Bird Flu visit the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.govt.nz.


								
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