Schools can stay open even if a student catches the swine flu, says the CDC

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Let’s all still wash our hands and cough into our sleeves, but it sounds like the CDC is getting a little braver about the swine (H1N1) flu. According to a story just posted on The Baltimore Sun website:

“Federal health officials are now recommending that schools should not close if they have a probable case of swine flu.
The recommendation, announced during a briefing to reporters Tuesday afternoon, reverses recommendations made last week that resulted in hundreds of school closures nationwide, including six in Maryland.”

There was one probable case of swine flu in an adult male reported in Harford County and no schools here were closed.

The Sun story went on to say that the CDC’s initial school closing recommendation was made before officials knew much about the illness. They have since discovered that its severity is similar to the seasonal flu — for which we don’t generally close schools.

The story also reported that cases in Mexico, where the swine flu started and killed 150 people, seem to be leveling off.

I don’t see any updates yet on the Harford County Public Schools website with regard to the swine flu. (An e-mail alert the district sent to parents on Sunday, repeated the Governor’s call to close schools for up to 14 days if a student was suspected of having the swine flu.) It appears from the Sun story that state officials are still reviewing the CDC’s about-face on the school closing recommendation. School superintendents in other Maryland school district had protested the school closings.

(Update 6:30 p.m. 5/5: I just received an eSchoolnewsletter from the Harford County Public Schools that included this link to the CDC’s new school closure guidelines:
NEW CDC Guidelines regarding School Closures as of 5-5-09: 5:30 p.m.
The CDC recommendations include:

“School closure is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of novel influenza A (H1N1) and, in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function.”

 This seems to indicate the district plans to follow the CDC guidelines.)

If anyone in your family does feel sick, the Baltimore Sun story says:

“Children with flu-like symptoms should stay home from school for seven days and those who begin to show symptoms at school should be sent home, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.”

Click here to read The Sun story: http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bal-school-flu0505,0,4902415.story

Click here to read previous BANV posts on the swine flu in Harford County.