More schools close because of flu

May 19, 2009 10:06:37 PM PDT
More New York City schools will be closed starting on Wednesday. Three schools were added to the list on Tuesday night: PS 130 in Chinatown, PS 35 in Hollis and Merrick Academy Charter School in Jamaica

Twenty-seven area schools have now shut down due to flu-like symptoms in students, including the Horace Mann School in the Bronx and four private and parochial schools also closing due to flu.

Over the last five days, the city closed 15 schools in Queens and one in Brooklyn after documenting confirmed cases of Swine Flu or H1N1 at I.S. 238Q, and unusually high levels of flu-like symptoms in the other schools. The Health Department continues to work with the Department of Education to assess the situation daily and make decisions regarding school closures on a case by case basis.

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  • The Health Department and the Department of Education are working to monitor flu-like illness in New York City schools. Officials said some schools will experience temporary closures in the coming days and weeks. Rather than using a simple rule to close schools, the Health Department is carefully evaluating the circumstances at each one. High absenteeism, by itself, is not a basis for closure.

    The Health Department said it is seeing increased levels of influenza in many parts of New York City.

    "We know that the new H1N1 (swine origin) virus is present in New York City, and all evidence suggests that it is causing a large proportion of the city's current flu cases. Except in special circumstances, the Health Department does not test people with flu to determine which type they have," the department said in a written statement.

    The city said it is trying to protect those at highest risk of complications from flu, such as those with previous existing conditions.

    On Long Island, the Nassau County Department of Health confirmed 8 cases of H1N1 flu among Memorial Junior High School students in Valley Stream. The district, anticipating a large student absenteeism rate, decided to close Memorial Junior High School on Wednesday and Thursday, reopening on Tuesday, May 26. All other district schools will remain open as there have been no confirmed cases at North High School, South High School or Central High School.

    In New Jersey, the first confirmed Hudson County case, involving a school-age boy, prompted Union City school officials on Monday to order the closing of his elementary school for a week.

    Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. Anyone experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek health care and treatment. The best way to prevent additional cases of flu in schools is to stay home when sick, cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and wash hands frequently. For those who are ill, the recommendation is to stay home until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

    Eating pork or pork products cannot spread H1N1 flu.

    The most effective way to lower the risk of spreading the flu is for anyone with a fever, cough or sore throat to stay home. The Health Department urges everyone to continue taking these basic precautionary steps:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough, either with your sleeve or a tissue or handkerchief.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid household or other close contact with sick people. If you are sick with a fever, cough or sore throat, stay home for at least 24 hours after all of your symptoms are gone.
  • Stay away from clinics and hospitals unless you have severe symptoms, and notify your doctor or the clinic before you arrive, or as soon as you arrive, so that you can be appropriately isolated from others.

    Influenza can evolve in unpredictable ways; officials said it is impossible to know whether this outbreak will dwindle, remain the same, or surge in coming weeks, and whether the illness will remain mild. Some severe cases may occur, including in people with underlying risk factors, such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions. The Health Department is watching closely for signs of increased virulence.

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    Schools Closed Because of Flu

    QUEENS

  • IS 238 (Susan B. Anthony), Hollis - reopening May 22
  • PS 16, Corona - reopening May 22
  • P255 (located at PS 16), Corona - reopening May 22
  • IS 5, Elmhurst - reopening May 22
  • MS 74 (Nathaniel Hawthorne), Bayside - reopening May 26
  • PS 107, Flushing - reopening May 26
  • MS 158, Bayside - reopening May 26
  • IS 25, Flushing - reopening May 26
  • World Journalism Preparatory (located at IS 25), Flushing - reopening May 26
  • PS 233 (located at IS 25), Flushing - reopening May 26
  • PS 19 (Marino Jeantet School), Corona - reopening May 26
  • PS 32 (State Street School), Flushing - reopening May 26
  • PS 209 (Clearview Gardens School/544 students), Whitestone - reopening May 26
  • P9 (located at PS 209), Whitestone - reopening May 26
  • Our Lady of Lourdes School, Queens Village - reopening May 26
  • Holy Family School, Fresh Meadows - closed May 20
  • St. Joseph's Elementary School, Long Island City - reopening May 21
  • PS 35 (Nathaniel Woodhull/615 students), Hollis - reopening May 26
  • Merrick Academy Charter School (495 students), Queens Village - reopening May 26

    MANHATTAN

  • Saint David's School, Upper East Side - reopening May 21
  • The Child School, Roosevelt Island - reopening May 21
  • PS 130 (Fernando De Soto/1,081 students), Chinatown - reopening May 26

    BROOKLYN

  • IS 318, Williamsburg - reopening May 26

    BRONX

  • Horace Mann School, Riverdale - reopening May 26
  • South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and the Arts, Mott Haven - reopening May 26

    NEW JERSEY
  • Robert Waters Elementary School, Union City - reopening May 26

    LONG ISLAND

  • Memorial Junior High School, Valley Stream - reopening May 26

    The New York Department of Education has put a guide on its Web site for parents whose kids are home because their schools are closed. The link includes homework packets. CLICK HERE for the DOE guide.

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    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    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
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cdinflu.shtml

    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    General information about swine flu
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm

    Swine Flu Case Definitions
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/casedef_swineflu.htm

    Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/guidelines_infection_control.htm

    Preventing the Flu
    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm


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