Today, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and District of Columbia Chancellor of Public Schools Michelle Rhee joined with officials from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Scholastic Inc., Pearson, Curriki, and the International Association for Online Learning to announce new recommendations on the continuity of learning in the event of students absences or school closures due to seasonal or novel H1N1 flu.
The recommendations crafted by the Department of Education are designed to help education stakeholders start planning and acting now for the impact that seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza could have this fall and winter on schools and the learning process.
Government officials are especially concerned about the impact of H1N1 in schools because the virus appears to spread quickly among younger Americans. The Centers for Disease Control’s DC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently found that younger Americans, specifically children ages 6 months to 24 years, are one of the top priority groups when it comes to the new H1N1 vaccine.
“We can all work to keep ourselves healthy now by practicing prevention, close monitoring and using common sense,” Secretary Duncan said. ”We know that some students may be affected by H1N1. And our top priority is making sure that they have a way to get well, stay well and to keep learning. With these recommendations, we’re providing a menu of strategies for educators to help ensure that the learning process will continue.”
“One important reason we are all here today is the Department of Education’s Continuation of Learning guidance,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Everyone’s goal should be to keep children healthy and in school. But if they get sick -- and some will -- we have to make sure that they don’t fall behind.”
The recommendations suggest that educators prepare take-home assignments in advance for distribution to affected students and use the Internet and telephones to post homework materials, conduct classes, share information and keep teachers, parents and students in close touch.
The department is working Google, Apple, Microsoft, Scholastic Inc., Pearson, Curriki, the International Association for Online Learning and other private sector partners, and service providers to make continuity of learning resources like pre-printed lesson plans, conference call services, webinar support, podcasting, and virtual classrooms more affordable and accessible for educators.
For the complete H1N1 Continuity of Learning Guidance, please visit www.ed.gov/h1n1flu