Morning Call: H1N1 Outbreak Placing Strain on Local School Districts

Today’s Morning Call has an article on how the current H1N1 crisis is placing a huge burden on local school districts. The article points out that while schools are doing their best with the available resources, a key problem is that Lehigh Valley school districts in areas without a local health department (that is, all districts located outside of the cities of Allentown and Bethlehem) are having to respond to a flood of calls seeking information and referrals; up-to-date data on H1N1 cases (data that generally is not available); and vaccines themselves. As the article states, this is not a role that school districts should play.

Schools do have some help from the state Department of Health, which has offered to staff H1N1 clinics for schools that want to host them. Some schools have decided to offer the vaccine. Others, such as Easton, have decided cost, staffing and other factors would keep them from doing so for the time being.

[Bangor School District Superintendent John] Reinhart said Bangor registered for the vaccine, but he doesn’t know when it will arrive or how many doses are coming. Once the district gets a shipment, setting up the clinic will take a major deployment of school personnel, Reinhart said.

That deployment will cost taxpayers, who will pay for a refrigeration unit to preserve the vaccine and for staff overtime to guard the vaccine and run the clinic, he said.

For Reinhart, it’s a clear example of why the area needs a regional health department. The joint Lehigh-Northampton county health department, formed earlier this year, is still not completely operational.

”This absolutely should not be the responsibility of school districts,” Reinhart said. ”I think that everyone who pays taxes in Lehigh and Northampton counties really has to look this over and see this as a rehearsal to perhaps a bigger health scare and problem that could be coming.”

You can read the full article here.

Posted on October 30, 2009, in Education, Health, Media Coverage, Regions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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