AUSTIN — Texas school officials have plans to carry out if the H1N1 “swine flu” influenza virus hits schools this fall.

Here’s a brief version of a set of federal/state guidelines schools are to follow if flu conditions are about the same as they were last spring:

1. Stay home when sick

2. Separate ill students and staff

3. Wash hands frequently with soap and water and cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available)

4. Routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often

5. Treat high-risk students and staff early

6. Consider selective school dismissal to better protect high-risk students

And here is a brief set of guidelines to be used if the conditions of increased severity emerge.

1. Active screening: Check students and staff for fever and other symptoms when they get to school in the morning, separate those who are ill, and send them home as soon as possible; monitor throughout the day

2. High-risk students and staff members stay home

3. Students with ill household members stay home

4. Increase distance between people at schools, such as moving desks farther apart or canceling classes that bring together children from different classrooms.

5. Extend the period for ill persons to stay home: if influenza severity increases, people with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 7 days, even if they have no more symptoms; if people are still sick, they should stay home until 24 hours after they have no symptoms

6. School dismissals if conditions warrant

2009: Most drownings on record

So far in 2009, 84 children have drowned in Texas, according to the count by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“If you can’t see a child, you can’t save a child,” said  Sasha Rasco, the state agency’s assistant commissioner for child care licensing.

“Children should never be left unsupervised for any length of time in or around water, because the results can be devastating.”

An average of 70 children drowned each year since the agency began the count in 2005. In 2008, 82 children drowned in Texas, previously the highest annual total.

Federal statistics show:

- Children under one year old most often drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets.

- Children from one to four years old drown most often in residential swimming pools.

- Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

New stickers sport

cowboy look

New Texas motor vehicle inspection stickers debuted Aug. 1, and they have a western look.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said images of cowboys will appear on different types of inspection stickers.

“We wanted to present a new certificate design that was immediately identifiable as being Texan,” said  JoJo Heselmeyer, director of vehicle services for the DPS.

Texas issues 10 different inspection certificate designs, dependent upon factors such as the age of the vehicle, whether it is designated as a commercial vehicle and whether emissions testing is required.

TxDOT uses social networking

On Aug. 3, the Texas Department of Transportation announced it is using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to communicate with the public.

TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz said, “It has already proved to be helpful in communicating important emergency information, traffic updates and lane closures and we intend to continue using this technology in the future.”

Perry-Hutchison debates planned

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in late July said she plans to resign in October or November to run for governor.

Last week her exploratory committee said she will participate in live debates with Gov. Rick Perry. Perry’s people said the governor has committed to two debates to be televised before the March 2 Republican primary.

The Dallas Morning News and four television stations, all owned by A.H. Belo Corp., will host and air the debates.

O’Neill decides not to run again

Texas Supreme Court Associate Justice Harriet O’Neill on Aug. 6 announced she does not intend to seek reelection when her term expires in 2010.

O’Neill was elected to her first six-year term in 1998. She is second in seniority on the present court.