School official with swine flu dies

May 18, 2009 2:42:37 PM PDT
Mitch Weiner, the assistant principal of IS 238 who contracted the swine flu, died Sunday.Wiener, who had been hospitalized and on a ventilator, had been sick with the virus for nearly a week before his school was closed on Thursday. Complications besides the virus likely played a part in the 55-year-old's death, Flushing Hospital Medical Center spokesman Andrew Rubin said.

Weiner's death is the first in New York City linked to swine flu virus and the sixth nationwide.

Wiener was hired as a substitute teacher in March 1978, then as a mathematics teacher, working in that position until 2007. Since then, Wiener had been employed as an assistant principal at I.S. 238, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Intermediate School, in the Hollis neighborhood.

Besides Wiener, no one else in New York City has become seriously ill from the virus. As of Sunday afternoon, health officials had reported five other deaths in the U.S.: three in Texas, one in Washington state and one in Arizona.

Ernest A. Logan, the president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, released the following statement:

"We were devastated to learn this evening that Mitch Wiener died. On behalf of each and every member of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, I extend our deepest sympathy and absolute support to Mitch's wife, Bonnie, and their three sons. They have been by Mitch's side at the hospital since Thursday, and they had every hope that he would recover. So did we. Mitch was the truest kind of educational leader, unsung, yet absolutely dedicated to his students, his teachers and fellow administrators, and to his Principal, Joe Gates. He serves us as a fine model and we grieve his loss."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued the following statement:

"We mourn the loss of Mitchell Wiener, the Assistant Principal of IS 238, who died this evening. Mr. Wiener was hired as a substitute teacher in March, 1978 and quickly began shaping generations of students from Hollis, Queens - as a math teacher from 1978 to 2007, and since then as Assistant Principal. He was a well-liked and devoted educator, and his death is a loss for our schools and our city. I ask all New Yorkers to keep his wife Bonnie and the rest of his family in their thoughts and prayers."

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein issues this statement:

"For three decades Mitchell Wiener enriched the lives of children at IS 238 in Hollis, Queens, where he served as a math teacher and administrator. He was committed to the success of his students, and was loved and respected by the school community. I'm greatly saddened by his death and my thoughts are with the 238 community and especially with his wife and family."

Governor David Paters had this to say:

"It is with great sadness tonight that we learn that New York has lost one of its residents to an illness related to H1N1. Speaking for all New Yorkers, our condolences and prayers go to Mitchell Wiener's family, friends, co-workers and students. I know he will be missed at the Intermediate School 238 in Hollis.

"The New York State Department of Health (DOH) remains on heightened alert to respond to the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak. DOH continues to work closely with local public health departments that are carefully monitoring the situation, particularly with respect to absenteeism in schools.

"DOH is working with the State Education Department to develop a standardized, real-time method of collecting absenteeism data from schools to assist local health departments with monitoring their communities. The agencies have also provided guidance on H1N1 to schools, which includes communicating with their local health departments if they are experiencing unusual rates of absenteeism."

Most people sickened from the swine flu, or the H1N1 virus, have complained of mild, seasonal flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.

The city's first outbreak of swine flu occurred three weeks ago, when about 700 students and 300 other people associated with a Catholic high school in Queens began falling ill following the return of several students from vacations in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.

  • INTERACTIVE MAP: Schools closed by flu concerns

  • ON THE NET: NYC Dept. of Education

  • Swine Flu Resource Guide
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    For facts about influenza, and more information about swine flu, please visit the Health Department and CDC websites. Some specific resources:

    From New York City Health Department

    Facts about flu

    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    General information about swine flu

    Swine Flu Case Definitions

    Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care

    Preventing the Flu