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Swine flu prompts hundreds of schools to close

Swine flu prompts hundreds of schools to close

U.S. schools are closing by the dozens as officials say they are being hit so hard and so fast by the H1N1 virus that they feel shutting down for a few days is the only feasible option.
The number of closures this year appears on target to surpass the roughly 700 schools closed last spring when the swine flu outbreak first hit.
At least 351 schools were closed last week alone _ affecting 126,000 students in 19 states, according to the U.S. Education Department. So far this school year, about 600 schools have temporarily shut their doors.
The federal government has urged schools to close because of the swine flu only as a last resort.
"There was nothing else we could do," said Michael Frechette, the superintendent of Connecticut's Middletown Public Schools where a middle school closed for the rest of the week after 120 students stayed home sick Monday and another 25 were sent home by noon. "The only way to stop that transmittal was to keep the kids home for the rest of the week."
Many school officials said they were afraid the virus would spread faster if they stayed open.
"Students are in such close proximity (to each other) and they're in two or three classrooms a day at two or three different desks," said Donna Lovell, director of pupil personnel for Berea Community Schools in Kentucky, which closed for four days last week after 20 percent of its students called in sick. "It's an incubator situation."
Whether it is all effective is debatable, with some experts saying that closing schools merely spreads the number of cases over a longer time.
Though there is no way to know how many children actually had swine flu, the deaths so far of roughly 1,000 people in the U.S. _ some of them children, including a 14-year-old in Ohio and another in Illinois this month _ have cast a shadow on school districts.


Updated : 2021-07-29 10:34 GMT+08:00