Influenza Surveillance Protocol and Frequently Asked Questions for Minnesota Schools
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Frequently Asked Questions
School health professionals should report suspected outbreaks of influenza-like-illness (ILI)* to MDH when:
- For all schools (including elementary): The number of students with ILI who are absent or sent home reaches 5 percent of the total school enrollment on a given day (e.g., a school of 600 students should report when 5 percent of their total enrollment (30 students) with ILI are absent or sent home or 600 x .05 = 30). Please include all students attending school, whether that is in-person or with the hybrid model.
- For elementary schools only: Three or more students with ILI from the same classroom are absent or sent home on a given day.
- Report one time per outbreak when either of the above thresholds is met throughout the year.
- Do not report subsequent days of the same outbreak.
- If symptoms of illness are unknown for an absent student, include this student in your count of ILI absences.
- Do not include students that are quarantined for COVID-19 in ILI numbers unless they report symptoms.
* ILI is defined as fever ≥100.0°F and cough or sore throat (in the absence of a known disease other than influenza).
School health professionals should use the secure online Influenza-like Illness Report Form, Minnesota Schools to report ILI to MDH.
- Use the printable Sample Influenza-like Illness Report Form - 2021-22 (PDF) to prepare for completing the influenza-like illness report online. This version is for guidance only. All reports should be submitted using the secure online report form.
Schools are encouraged to report this information to MDH as soon as possible during business hours.
Data on outbreaks of ILI in schools will be posted at Minnesota Weekly Influenza Activity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Thank you to Minnesota school health professionals for your work in reporting influenza-like illness (ILI) to the Minnesota Department of Health. Because of your partnership, we are able to understand the ILI activity level occurring in schools. We would like to emphasize that the goals are to understand overall activity level and geographic spread - not to count every case of ILI absence. We have had many questions from you and we would like to clarify a few things. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
Once a school has reported that one of the two thresholds had been met, does that school report again if or when it reaches the other threshold?
No, we are asking that you report only the first time that you reach either of the two thresholds. Report only on whichever threshold you reach first. Once you have reported for your school, you do not need to report again. So, for example, if you are an elementary school that reported a classroom with three students absent with ILI, you do not report again if your whole school reaches the 5 percent of total enrollment absent with ILI.
Once a school has reported that one elementary classroom has three students absent with ILI, does that school report again for a different classroom that has three students out?
No, we are asking that you report only the first classroom with three or more absent with ILI. If there are more classrooms involved after this first report, you may want to notify parents and staff again, but you do not need to report this to us.
What if a school reaches 5 percent absent with ILI and then absences due to ILI decrease for a few days but are back up to 5% a week later?
A general guideline for schools should be to wait until absences due to ILI have decreased to usual numbers for a few weeks before reporting again. If you numbers fluctuate a bit from day-to-day, we do not consider those as separate outbreaks.