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Press Release

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Emphasizes H1N1 Swine Flu Prevention as Students Head Back to School
~ Health and Education officials partner to inform students, teachers, parents ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today kicked off a two-day awareness campaign to promote back-to-school health safety and H1N1 Swine Flu prevention. Alongside the Governor during the press conference were State Surgeon General Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros, Education Commissioner Dr. Eric Smith and Superintendent Jackie Pons of Leon County, on behalf of superintendents statewide. Earlier today, the Governor, Surgeon General, and Commissioner sent a letter to school district superintendents, providing information about keeping Florida’s school children healthy and safe.

“We want to take a proactive approach to staying healthy as we begin the new school year,” said Governor Crist. “I know parents and teachers will agree that keeping our children healthy and learning is a top priority.”

Governor Crist recommended that parents and teachers explain to students the importance of the following basic preventive hygiene measures:

  • Make it a routine to wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Cough into your elbow or into a tissue, not into your hands.
  • Avoid contact with those who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home from school if you feel sick.

"Our health experts at the state and local level have been working closely with Commissioner Smith and schools statewide to ensure that we keep our children safe," said Surgeon General Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros. "We want to remind parents that they are our partners and keeping sick children home is best.”

The letter sent to superintendents statewide today presented helpful information about addressing parents’ concerns regarding H1N1 Swine Flu. A sample letter to parents also provided tips and methods for reducing transmission. The key component of the prevention strategy is continuous education through public outreach. A toll-free hotline will also be set up by August 24th, the first day all school districts will have begun the school year.

Commissioner Dr. Eric Smith added, “Sharing valuable health-related information and tips for prevention are two valuable components in ensuring the well-being of our students. By maintaining our awareness, we will be able to better alleviate transmission, particularly among our students.”

For more information, please visit the Florida Department of Health flu information Web page at