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Deciding when to close a school

May 20, 2009 1:56:15 PM PDT
If anyone can figure out the logic of closing some schools while keeping others open, please get in touch with me A.S.A.P.

I know there's no blueprint for how to handle a mild outbreak of flu this late in the season -- and we thought the flu wasn't supposed to thrive in warmer temperatures -- but logic doesn't seem to be apply to what's happened so far.

We're up to 30 schools closed - many with no confirmed cases of swine flu. Fear has spread faster than the virus.

It's hard to blame schools for shutting down with lots of students complaining of flu-like symptoms. But why some schools and not others? And is keeping kids out of school the best thing, in terms of education? The hard truth: Most kids won't get sick.

On the other hand (and don't I sound like an octopus?), doing nothing might not be the best response.

The Department of Education sent a letter to parents today explaining, among other things, how the decisions to close schools are made. You can CLICK HERE to read it.

Late today, New York City announced two more schools would be closed for five days starting tomorrow.

Then there's Long Island. One school in Valley Stream said it would close for the rest of the week; another in nearby Levittown said this morning it would close tomorrow, but not today. Say what?

We'll have the latest on the public health issue of the year (so far), tonight at 11.

Also at 11, Pres. Obama tonight facing his first in-party opposition, as the Senate voted against funding the White House plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay by next January. The closure - a centerpiece of the President's agenda - was blocked because there's uncertainty, and tons of fear, over what to do with the 240 now held in the prison. It's a not-in-my-backyard mentality, and it's hard to totally blame lawmakers for not wanting suspected terrorists suddenly dumped in their districts.

But the operative word for most of these guys is "suspected." There've been no trials, a few arcane and hardly constitutional "military tribunals," and they've been imprisoned for years without being officially charged.

It's time to close that place, but this vote is a real blow to the new President. And the public isn't exactly totally on board with it. The latest polls show luke-warm support for shuttering the U.S. run prison in Cuba (and how did that happen? How did Cuba allow the U.S. to keep a military base on the tiny island?) - anywhere from 42 to 51 percent.

We're also following up on a story about the actress Patricia Neal, whose contractor problems have been of the nightmarish variety. Tonight, investigative reporter Jim Hoffer, who uncovered the problems earlier this year, finds Ms. Neal has solved her problems by hiring a new contractor. But, ever scrappy, she's now suing her original guy. It's quite a tale.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Scott Clark with the night's sports, and Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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