School remains open despite flu concerns

October 23, 2009 11:18:26 PM PDT
The CDC is leaving the decision up to schools about whether to remain open or to shut down. No matter what they do, somebody is going to be unhappy.

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Both the state and federal government have written volumes about how to deal with the H1N1 flu. One of the reports from the California Department of Education is 43 pages long.

Ultimately staying open or closing will be a series of judgment calls and ABC7 went to a school in San Leandro that remains all business -- though not business quite as usual.

At St. Leander School in San Leandro, Kathy Heisick has called a lot of parents recently. On Friday morning, 6-year-old Collin Chasten was one of the latest.

"Well, I threw up in class. I threw up," he said.

In a normal flu season, we would take that at face value. But with H1N1 lurking, nobody has that luxury, especially principal Lynne Mullen.

"We did expect this. I think there will be more before we turn the corner on this," said Mullen

St. Leander now has two confirmed cases of H1N1, but nobody is hitting the panic button because they planned for this.

At first diagnosis, a letter is notified parents. It also reminded them of state and federal guidelines for H1N1.

If a child has a temperature, keep him or her at home for 24 hours after the end of a fever and even if they aren't sick be careful anyway. The reminders have been up for months.

"When they're at school, we teach them to cough into their arms, to use tissues, to wash their hands," said Mullen.

Today, St. Leander installed 18 sanitizing machines at each of its classrooms. Even so, the parents of at least one child kept their daughter healthy daughter home today.

Others have asked, why not just close. The school has guidelines for that, too.

"If it became so many students or teachers who were out that we could not carry on normal instruction, we would close the school. What that number is would have to be determined as more children became sick," said Mullen.

But St. Leander isn't there yet and hopes it never will be.

As far as young Collin is concerned, names make no difference, anyway no matter what bug he got.

"It was really yucky," he said.

St. Leander told ABC7 that of their 250 kids, 12 called in sick today. They confirmed the first of those two H1N1 cases on Wednesday. We should add that if epidemic worsens, the CDC recommends tougher guidelines. Among them is keeping kids home from school for five days if anyone in the house gets the H1N1 virus.

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