Does your education facility have a plan in place for a bioterrorism attack, outbreak, or pandemic? St. Louis University researchers say that many U.S. school facilities are not prepared for these occurrences, despite recent incidents like the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
The findings of the study reveal that only 48% of schools address pandemic preparedness and, even more shocking – Only 40% of schools have updated their plans since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic that spread illnesses in more than 214 countries.
The study, led by Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., associate professor at SLU's Institute for Biosecurity, surveyed about 2000 nurses working in elementary, middle and high schools across 26 states.
"There is a lot of research that shows influenza spreads quickly in schools because it's a communicable disease and kids interact closely," Rebmann said. "Schools need to have a written pandemic plan in order to be prepared to put interventions into place quickly when an event occurs."
The study suggests that every school should review and update its pandemic preparedness plan annually and address gaps in infectious disease emergency planning. Schools also need to coordinate these plans with the local and regional disaster response agencies, and organize disaster drills and exercises, including holding drills that involve an infectious disease scenario.