A third school might close due to swine flu

April 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The flu scare has triggered the closure of two Bay Area schools so far: Highlands Elementary in Pittsburg and Branham High in San Jose. Marina Vista Elementary, also in Pittsburg, might be the third Bay Area school to be closed due to the swine flu.

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At Marina Vista Elementary nine students presented themselves with flu-like symptoms. Tests have been sent to the county lab and the results will help decide if it is the second school that will have to close in Pittsburg.

The Contra Costa Public Health director, Dr. Wendell Brunner, said the genie is out of the bottle, when describing the growing number of possible swine flu cases in his county.

"We're hopeful it's the normal strain of flu and we need to take extra precautions though, considering the outbreak," said Principal Lynne Plunkett.

To that end, a school janitor wiped down computers, desks and any surface commonly touched by students. First grader Joshua Perez is doing his part.

"At recess, we wash our hands," said Perez.

At Pittsburg's Highlands Elementary, the playground was empty and the doors shut tight after three students tested probable for swine flu. Principal Steve Ahonen reported to the county health department that 13 kids in all are sick.

"The information they wanted was only on that one particular classroom of kids. So those are the visits they made last night," said Ahonen.

All the ill students were in student Peala Fox's fourth-grade class.

"They were coughing. A lot had a headache. And they thought were hot because they had a fever," said Fox.

Highlands won't re-open for at least a week. County health and school officials joined with state superintendent Jack O'Connell to spread the word to parents that they shouldn't panic, or keep well kids away from school.

"This is really a school by school decision," said O'Connell.

"If your child's healthy, that child really needs to attend school. It's critical," said the Contra Costa Superintendent of Schools Joseph Ovick.

The school will remain open and it will be business as usual, unless one of the test results comes back possible for swine flu.

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