NYTimes: Swine Flu Should Not Close Most Schools, Federal Officials Say

Published: August 7, 2009

Most schools should be able to stay open even if swine flu outbreaks occur again this fall, government officials said Friday as they issued recommendations for dealing with the illness when the school year starts.

Decisions about whether to close schools should be made locally, the officials said, and “should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from influenza with the goal of minimizing social disruption and safety risks to children,” which sometimes occur when schools close.

The nation has 130,000 schools, 55 million students and 7 million staff members. Closing schools may mean that parents have to stay home or find child care, which some cannot afford. People in essential jobs, like health care, may be stuck at home during outbreaks when they are most needed. In some cases, children may wind up being left home alone or going to the mall, where they can spread the H1N1 flu virus.

The secretaries of education, homeland security and health and human services described the guidelines for schools with grades kindergarten through 12 on Friday at a news briefing in Washington, along with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for colleges and employers are set to be issued on Aug. 23.

Article continues at The New York Times

Comments are closed.