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School Closures May Not Be Necessary When Swine Flu Strikes
Date:8/7/2009

the school.
  • If any family member of a student becomes ill with the flu, the respective student should stay home for five days from the day symptoms arise, the experts advised.
  • Increase distances between students by spreading desks further apart or canceling classes that bring students from different classes together.
  • Extend the stay-at-home period for sick students to seven days, even after symptoms have subsided.
  • Close schools after careful weighing of the risks and benefits to students and the community. Schools should be closed for five to seven calendar days, and then officials should reassess the advisability of re-opening the school.
  • Even during a school closure, teachers and staff should have access to the school so they can continue to provide instruction via the Web and other means. Speaking at the news conference, Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, said that "realistically, some schools will close this fall. If they do, it is important to us that students continue to learn."
  • "Only schools with high numbers of high-risk students or students getting the flu should actually consider closure," Napolitano said.

    Health officials may have another tool in their arsenal, as well: a swine flu vaccine.

    "The best way to prevent the spread of the flu is vaccination, and our scientists are working hard to have a vaccine ready for consumption by mid-October," Sebelius said. According to the CDC's Frieden, "the vaccine will most likely, at least for children, require two doses separated by about three weeks or more."

    "Because not a lot of kids get vaccinated against flu in a regular flu season, it's going to be challenging to get lots of kids vaccinated," he noted.

    When the H1N1 vaccine is available, "we hope all providers and venues where flu vaccine can be given will be used. That includes, wherever possible, school-located vacci
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