Liberal health critic Diana Whalen is calling on the province to communicate more effectively with schools about H1N1, also known as swine flu.

Whalen said yesterday parents have approached her “in the grocery store and on the street,” asking whether schools are prepared to protect their children from H1N1 when they reopen to students in the middle of next week.

“We’re one week away from the start of school and the plans from the school board, the pandemic plans, have yet to be finally approved,” Whalen told Metro yesterday.


She added the government has not passed instructions on to provincial school boards, so staff members haven’t received protocol on how to deal with the potentially deadly virus.

“For parents, they want to know that everything is in place - that there’s good planning,” she said. “The best way to prevent the spread of any infection is to make sure that people know how to identify it and what to do if a member of their family or their child has it.”

Halifax Regional School Board spokesman Doug Hadley said yesterday the board should be sending out letters to parents about swine flu within the next week, adding he expected the government’s website to be updated with more information by that time.

Hadley also said the government sent letters about the flu to parents from Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for the province last spring.

“We don’t necessarily have a way to communicate with parents over the summer,” Hadley said. “For the most part their minds are on other things until the week before school starts.”

Education Department spokesperson Peter McLaughlin said they will be sending information kits home with students when they return to school next week to “help (parents) focus on steps they can take, and their families can take, to prevent the virus from spreading.”

“We’re as prepared as anybody can be,” McLaughlin said.

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