H1N1 Resources

The national news media have been covering the story of the public health emergency declared in relation to the recent outbreak of swine flu.  According to the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), “while most school communities are not affected at this time, the national awareness and monitoring of the virus provide an opportunity for proactive communication about your district’s emergency preparedness plan in the event of school closures.”

As the state chapter of NSPRA, the Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is responsive to district communication needs for all types of issues.  The following resources are being provided as districts prepare and deliver their responses to the current communication opportunity.

Facts about H1N1 Flu Virus

When the community is concerned about an issue, facts can help to prevent rumors and even panic.  National health organizations have provided fact sheets such as the following that districts can share with their publics:

Communication by Letter

Many districts have taken steps to communicate with their parents through letters sent home.  The following links provide sample communications that districts have used.  Note the similarities among the letters.  In their communication, districts:

  • acknowledge swine influenza as a national issue
  • indicate that there are no known swine flu cases in Wisconsin
  • assure parents that the district is working proactively to provide information
  • provide information about swine flu and how it is thought to be spread
  • describe the symptoms of swine flu
  • offer suggestions for prevention
  • assure parents that the district has a plan in place to deal with any outbreak
  • provide a national source of further information
  • provide a district contact for further questions

 

Communication by Web Site and Cable Television

When communicating with the public it is critical to use a variety of media. Consider all your options, including your website, community cable access or “PEG” channels, email blasts, all-calls or newsletters. If there is an outbreak of a contagious infection in your area, it is not wise to hold large public forums as this increases the chance to spread the virus.

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG