A pandemic is a rare, but recurring communicable disease event that is more widespread than usual seasonal illness. It can occur during any time of the year, not just when seasonal flu or other illness are expected. No one can predict when a pandemic communicable disease outbreak will occur, but many public health officials worldwide concur that it is a matter of "when" and not "if". A pandemic virus is an outbreak of a new virus to which people have no immunity and for which there is no vaccine, occurring on multiple continents at the same time.
During a pandemic in the United States, depending on the organism, as many as four in 10 school-age children may become sick, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many teachers, students, and staff members would also be ill or need to care for ill family members and not be able to report to work. Disruptions to school, work and general life should be expected. In some cases, schools may be required to close for an extended period of time.
The following links provide resources to assist schools and individuals in their efforts to plan for and respond to a pandemic outbreak. While much can be learned from public health’s experience with the 2009-2010 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, DPI’s resources and external links will be updated as agencies’ respond to current and future, real and potential pandemics.
Resources are divided into the following two areas:
As instructional time is impacted by a number of circumstances, here is information about flexible instructional time as listed by DPI under PI 8. This includes background information about Virtual Learning Time and how to support extended absences or closure time.