Swine flu fears not enough to shutter schools
By Tracy Garcia Staff Writer
Whittier Daily News
And they're likely to remain that way in light of Tuesday's announcement from the Centers for Disease Control, which said swine flu cases no longer warrant campus shutdowns, even when there are confirmed cases among students.
"That's very good news for all of us," said Joe Gillentine, superintendent of the 8,800-student
"We've been receiving flu-related information every day, so it helps to recognize that it's not as bad as everyone initially believed," he said.
The impact of the swine flu virus is also expected to be a topic of discussion this morning at a regular meeting of dozens of school attendance and welfare officials at the Los Angeles County Office of Education in
But among local districts, it seems swine flu fears peaked at a time when many schools were starting this year's round of state testing - and may have unexpectedly helped keep student absenteeism at bay.
"We had a lot of incentives for schools to have students attend for testing," said
Public schools must have at least 95 percent of students participate in testing every year, according to state requirements.
"But we've been monitoring everything very closely and doing all the precautions," Ward said. "And we haven't seen anything out of the ordinary."
That's not to say that there weren't plenty of worries among parents, students and school staffers in recent weeks, said Los Angeles County Chief School Nurse Cathy Bray.
"We had a lot of people very concerned last week," said Bray, who regularly communicates with school nurses throughout the county.
"But as the news coverage changed, and they started telling people that the symptoms were not very severe - it's been much calmer out there."
So far, there have been 11 confirmed cases of the swine flu in
Bray said her advice to school nurses was simple: Follow your usual policies on students who are ill.
"Students who have the flu are contagious before they start having symptoms," she said. "But once they start having symptoms, they need to stay home until they're well."
Binti Harvey, director of communications and community engagement for the 22,000-student Pasadena Unified School District, said regular flu updates were being sent to schools, students and parents, and administrators were "communicating constantly" with local health officials.
"But we have not had a swell of concern,"
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