On Guard: Schools reopen after extended vacation with precautions for H1N1

After a three-week delay in restarting school after New Year holiday, authorities in Armenia say preventive measures to avoid a second wave of the swine flu outbreak will be in place as school has begun today.

Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan had signed a decree on extension of vacations in kindergartens and schools based on the motion of the Ministry of Health that read that 80 percent of patients with acute respiratory infections were children.

Since its outbreak late last year the H1N1 swine flu virus has killed 18 in Armenia, and hundreds were hospitalized with flu symptoms last month. The health ministry said that the situation has stabilized in recent days.

Recently, Artavazd Vanyan, the director general of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health, told media that despite the fact that the resumption of classes is risky, some measures will be taken necessary to prevent a second wave of flu.

“We have to preserve the full heat mode. The heat monitoring has already started at schools and kindergartens,” he said, advising parents not to take their children to school or kindergarten if the young ones have even mild disease symptoms.

To ensure the necessary temperature at schools and kindergartens, by order of the education minister, classrooms were provided with required heating at least two days prior to the classes. In places where proper heating could not be assured, classes will be delayed.

Vanyan also said that physical education will not be held, and that canteens will not be operated at schools for a while.

For preventive purposes, each morning, before the start of classes, school children will be examined by nurses.