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Vacaville girl had H1N1; two schools closed

October 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Health officials in Solano County are taking drastic steps after a first grader who died on Sunday tested positive for the H1N1 virus. The school district decided to shut down the little girl's school as a precaution and a private school is temporarily closing as well.

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The first grader went to school at Browns Valley Elementary. The memorial there in her honor continues to grow. Concern is also growing, now that officials decided to shut down the school because of swine flu.

"This is a very difficult time for the Browns Valley community and district as we are dealing with concerns of H1N1 and the loss of one of our students," says school board president Larry Mazzuca.

Parents are in shock and the Vacaville Unified School District is at a loss. A first grader identified only as Alexis died Sunday. On Thursday, health officials confirmed the little girl tested positive for the H1N1 virus. District leaders and public health officers decided to shut down Browns Valley until Tuesday.

"School is being dismissed in order to interrupt the transmission of any viruses that may have existed at Browns Valley," says Mazzuca.

The absenteeism rate at the school sky rocketed on Thursday when 221 of the 900 students called in sick. Summyr Fien kept her son home from school since he was in Alexis's class and he had a fever.

"I wish they would have shut down the school sooner because I think a lot of kids were exposed to it that previously were not exposed to it," says Fien.

Parents packed Thursday night's school board meeting. Frustration, worry, and fear filled the room. Many say Alexis went home sick, last Friday and action should've been taken earlier.

"I think it's too little too late," says parent Rob Epperson.

"Our children were together four complete days, longer than needed, because of my feeling a lack of action and information," says parent Jennifer Zinn.

"We learned about the child having been positive for the H1N1 virus today around 2:30 this afternoon," says Solano County public health officer Dr. Ronald Chapman, M.D.

Public health officials wanted this confirmation from a state lab before making the school closure call. The coroner meantime won't know for another week or so whether the H1N1 virus caused the girl's death.

Officials at Vacaville Christian High School, which is a private school, decided to voluntarily close down that campus until Monday. It turns out 40 students and a third of their staff have swine flu like symptoms.

LINK: Information from Vacaville Unified School District about the closure

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