Don't Close for Swine Flu: Feds to Schools

Shutting down is 'last resort' if 'high numbers' of students fall ill
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2009 5:52 PM CDT
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan holds up a copy of 'Preparing for the Flu,' during a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services August 7, 2009 in Washington, DC.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Health officials issued new guidelines today to help schools handle swine flu cases, advising them to close only if "high numbers" of students fall ill, USA Today reports. Closing down should be “a last resort, not a first resort,” US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. The guidelines replace a standing directive to shutter any H1N1-infected school for 2 weeks. More than 700 schools were temporarily closed last spring.

Under the guidelines, infected students will be asked to recuperate at home for up to a week once their fever dies down. The federal directive also stresses frequent hand washing, “coughing etiquette,” and vigilance among teachers. At a Washington press conference, Duncan added that schools could be ideal mass vaccination sites if the swine flu grows more severe.