September 15, 2009
Dear School Parents:
Your school has agreed to partner with us on a School Health Surveillance Program for the 2009-2010 school year. A pilot of this program was conducted with 3 schools in Outagamie County in 2008-2009. The school health surveillance program has proven to be a good tool for managing public health issues that affect schools.
Routine surveillance of student absences due to illness is a reflection of illness throughout the greater community. The collection of student illness information can help with early detection of seasonal influenza, norovirus, and other communicable disease outbreaks. This ability is especially important this school year in light of the current H1N1 influenza pandemic. This information helps health departments respond to assist schools with protecting the health of school children and the public.
When you call your school to report an absence, you may be asked to provide more specific information about illness symptoms that your child has, such as:
• Influenza-Like Illness (fever/chills, cough/sore throat/congestion, headache/muscle aches)
• Gastrointestinal (Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea)
• Other illness
Your school will keep track of the number of children absent each day and communicate with Outagamie County Public Health on a regular basis. Outagamie County public health staff will be working closely with schools to monitor absences due to influenza-like illness and will make recommendations as needed.
We appreciate your cooperation as we learn how to better serve our school communities in this new capacity!
Melody Bockenfeld, MPH, BSN
Public Health Officer