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Masks, Gloves To Be Shipped To County Schools

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Aired 12/4/09

The San Diego County Office of Education reports roughly 500,000 surgical masks will be distributed to county school districts in hopes of curbing the spread of swine flu -- and more supplies are the way.

— The San Diego County Office of Education reports roughly 500,000 surgical masks will be distributed to county school districts in hopes of curbing the spread of swine flu -- and more supplies are the way.

The county's education office just received a large shipment of surgical masks from the California Department of Education. The masks will be distributed to county school districts beginning Monday. Districts will also be getting shipments of plastic gloves.

It’s all part of a statewide effort to prevent the spread of H1N1 and other viruses in schools.

The county's Jim Esterbrooks said students who appear to be sick should wear these masks and gloves immediately.

“I would defer to the medial authorities with county health and human services and the school nursing personnel,” Esterbrooks said. “If they (the medial authorities) feel it’s important to put a mask on a kid because he or she is sneezing, coughing, and displaying flu-like symptoms, then that's their decision.”

Federal guidelines say students should be sent to a separate sick room at school until their parents pick them up.

The state's education department secured federal grants to buy the stockpile of supplies, but had problems finding money for all the shipments. That delayed their arrival.

Esterbrooks said the supplies would have been helpful two months ago.

“Just as it would have been helpful to have a far greater supply of the vaccines. But we're working with the supplies that have been provided to us. That is the best we can do,” Esterbrooks.

Private companies including FedEx donated their time and money to help the state distribute the rest of the supplies. The masks and gloves come as the number of new swine flu cases have dipped in some counties.

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