Primary and nursery pupils returning to school in Shetland this week are set to learn about the importance of good hand washing as part of the fight against the swine flu outbreak.
The Scottish Government’s National Hand Hygiene Campaign pack, which includes a DVD featuring a cartoon character named Handy, is being sent to every primary and nursery school.
The pack is intended to help encourage children to develop a lifelong habit of regular handwashing. In addition, the pack will contain information for pupils on the proper use of tissues and the importance of covering coughs and sneezes.
Parents will also receive a joint letter from secretary for health and wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon and secretary for education Fiona Hyslop reassuring them about the reopening of schools during the pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Our main priority continues to be how best we can protect the health and wellbeing of the public, including children and young people, during the H1N1 outbreak.
“Schools in Shetland [will reopen] as planned and people should remember that the vast majority of those who contract H1N1 will experience relatively mild symptoms and make a full recovery.
“However, the spread of H1N1 in Scotland has made good hand hygiene even more important and we are reinforcing this in schools and nurseries by issuing these information packs. The latest figures for Scotland also show that, while the virus continues to circulate, the rates remain relatively low.”
Ms Hyslop added: “I understand the concerns that many pupils, parents and teachers will have over the current H1N1 outbreak, however I can reassure you that we expect schools right across the country to reopen as normal this week.
“At the start of a new school term it’s important that we get the message of hand hygiene across and embed a firm understanding in our youngest pupils of the difference that this can make.
“The packs are being distributed to every nursery and primary in Scotland and I’m sure young pupils across Scotland will benefit from taking on board this advice.”
Pupils return to school on Wednesday, except those at Bell’s Brae who will return as planned on Thursday to allow staff to move furniture and other items back into classrooms following essential maintenance.