Parents of students at Pierson Middle/High School may want to take extra precautions in the coming days to protect their children against the flu, as a cafeteria worker at the school most likely has come down with a case of H1N1, a.k.a. swine flu.
At a board of education meeting earlier this week, school superintendent Dr. John Gratto made the announcement but said “there is no reason to panic.”
Dr. Gratto noted he has been in contact with the Suffolk County Health Department. A county physician told him there was a 99 percent chance the lunchroom staff member had swine flu, but advised the school to adopt a “wait and see” approach.
Dr. Gratto added that the cafeteria employee was in contact with at least 400 students and faculty. He noted though that “this doesn’t mean students or faculty will get sick.”
School members were encouraged to continue following preventative measures, such as receiving seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations, regularly washing their hands, covering their mouths when they cough and staying at home if they are sick.
Because another cafeteria member is also sick and at home, with a contagious bronchitis, Pierson students were asked to bring their lunches on Tuesday.
On Monday evening, parents received a pre-recorded telephone message at home from Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols saying that the two staff workers were ill, and that no school-provided lunch would be available on Tuesday. He said the janitorial staff was wiping down counters with a “viruscide.”
“We will serve juice and milk. [But] the students will need to bring their own lunch on Tuesday and maybe for the rest of the week,” added Dr. Gratto at the meeting.
On Tuesday afternoon, however, parents again received a telephone message from Nichols saying one cafeteria worker was cleared to return to work, and that the lunch program would again be available yesterday, Wednesday.
For more information and updates, visit the school’s website at http://www.sagharborschools.org/?q=node/1026.