TO: DISTRICT DIRECTORS PRINCIPALS SCHOOL GOVERNING BODIES RE: MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES WITHIN OFFICES AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS The following procedures are provided to serve as guidelines to all offices and schools in coordinating appropriate responses in managing reported cases of confirmed (laboratory tested) and/or suspected cases of communicable (transmittable) diseases such as meningitis, influenza A H1N1 (swine flu), measles, tuberculosis, cholera, food poisoning amongst staff members, educators and learners. 1. Information, Awareness and Early Identification of Communicable Diseases 1.1. Head Office and District officials should on a regular basis liaise with the Department of Health’s units i.e. Communicable Diseases Control, School Health, Health Promoting Schools and District Outbreak Response Teams. 1.2. Details of the Department of Health’s Extended Programme Immunisation (EPI) and health screening for minor ailments amongst children should be communicated to all schools. 1.3. Information, education and communication (IEC) materials on the causes, symptoms and precautionary measures on communicable diseases should be disseminated amongst staff members, principals, educators, learners and parents. These could be in the form of pamphlets, posters, presentations, seminars, etc. 1.4. Ongoing advocacy and information on basic hygiene practices i.e. sneezing/coughing in their hand or sleeve, frequent hand washing, safely discarding used tissues , avoiding public spaces or avoiding close contact with others when ill, etc. 1.5. Sick learners, staff members or educators should be advised to stay at home until they are better. If they develop any worrying symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe dizziness, blue of pale lips or extremities they should consult a health practitioner immediately. 1.6. Health officials should be invited to address staff members, learners, and parents in cases of serious outbreak. This would serve to allay communities’ fears, misconceptions and to advise on precautionary measures. 2. REPORTING OF CONFIRMED OR SUSPECTED CASES 2.1. Schools 2.1.1. Parents should inform the principal of any chronic medical condition of their children which may place them at higher risk if they become infected with a communicable disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS or other immunosuppression, TB, diabetes, asthma, heart or lung disease). 2.1.2. Parents should report any diagnosed communicable disease of their children to the principal. 2.1.3. Learners’ complaints of feeling ill should always be treated as serious. 2.1.4. Learners reporting ill or displaying any of the symptoms of a communicable disease should be confined to a well-maintained sick bay (isolated, if deemed necessary) until their parents have been contacted to fetch them at school. 2.1.5. Parents should be advised to seek immediate medical attention for sick children and to keep sick children at home until they have fully recovered. 2.1.6. Principals should report confirmed or suspected cases of communicable diseases to their respective District offices. 2.1.7. Details of the learner, ailment, date of diagnosis, health institution and other relevant information should be recorded and stored safely. 2.1.8. The confidentiality of and non-stigmatisation of learners must be ensured at all times. 2.1.10 Abnormal absenteeism or increased reports of symptoms amongst staff members and learners must be monitored and reported. 2.1.11 After consultation with the relevant provincial and/or district officials, the district director or principal may issue notices to parents informing them of an outbreak at the school and what necessary steps have been taken to prevent the further spread of the infection. 2.1.12 Providing preventative medication to close contacts of an infected person will be on a case-by-case basis and only on the advice of qualified health practitioners/officials. 2.1.13 In such cases, parents may be requested to grant indemnity/permission for the administration of such medication by qualified health practitioners/officials. If the parents are unavailable to do so, the principal may act as parentis in locus. 2.1.14 School Based Support Teams (SBST) should also provide the necessary support to learners and parents. 2.1.15 Schools may also request the district to provide the necessary counselling and support to infected and affected staff members, learners and parents. 2.2 District offices 2.2.10 District offices should keep and share updated contact details of their local and Provincial Outbreak Response Teams. 2.2.11 The relevant district unit (Education Support Services/School Health Unit/Circuit Manager) should record and report all reported cases to the Provincial Office. 2.2.12 In consultation with the Provincial Office an appropriate course of action will be decided upon which may include dispatching a multi-disciplinary team consisting of education and health officials to the relevant school or community. 2.2.13 Districts should on request from the school provide the necessary counselling and follow-up support for infected and affected staff members and learners. 2.2.14 Relevant district units (e.g. curriculum, support services) should participate actively in intersectoral forums dealing with public and school health matters. 3. Dealing with Media Queries 3.1. All media queries should be referred to the District Director and/or Directorate: Communications at the Provincial Office. 4. Closure of Schools 4.1. The closure of a school will only be considered as a last resort in the mitigation of and pending the severity of an outbreak. 4.2. The Head of Department may authorise the closure in consultation with the relevant Health authorities.