School aims to prevent H1N1 outbreak October 14, 2009 — by Grishma Athavale and Anna Shen Permalink In an effort to prevent an H1N1 outbreak, school officials are taking strides on campus to keep students and teachers healthy. The main change in the safety precautions this year has been the purchase of six brand new hand sanitizer machines, paid for by the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO), which have been placed in different parts of the school—the most notable ones being located in front of the library and cafeteria. In addition to the newly installed hand sanitizer machines on campus, teachers have been instructed, through two recent faculty meetings, to strictly follow all the usual precautions: keep a box of tissues in their classrooms and send home any students who aren’t feeling well. Teachers have also agreed to give reasonable make-up tests to any students who happen to be absent on test days during the flu season. “Our teachers are willing to cooperate and will not penalize students when they’re absent. [The teachers and students] are all in agreement,” said Hyde. “[Teachers] don’t want to be sick anymore than [students] want to be sick.” Not only is the school gearing up for the flu season, but local pharmacies, such as CVS, are also helping in the prevention of a flu outbreak by providing flu shots for the community at a minimal cost. Many Saratoga students, despite illness, continue to go to school in fear of missing and exam or important class material. Hyde advises all ill students to stay at home, whether the illness be slight or severe. Hyde feels that the main difficulty will not be making the students agree to staying home, but instead will be making parents agree to keep their ill kids home. “The best way to prevent [an outbreak] is to send every kid who says, ‘Gee, I’m not feeling well’ home,” said Hyde. “Parents, however, say, ‘Oh, but they’ve got a test.” But if [their] kid comes in to take a test, 20 other students are affected. Keep your sick kid home.” Although SHS has not experienced an H1N1 outbreak, school officials feel that it is always best to prepare for the worst. Even Hyde has become more conscience of washing and sanitizing her hands more often than before. “Purell is my middle name,” said Hyde.