HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Schools, the flu and vaccines: What You Need to Know

The H1N1 virus has killed thousands of people across the country

By GreatSchools Staff

The H1N1 virus is sweeping the country --

Schools on High Alert

Schools and state and county public health departments are on high alert, monitoring the situation closely and issuing new directives frequently.

Most Cases So Far Have Been Mild

Despite the alarm and the precautions taken, most cases reported have been relatively mild and have not required a doctor's care. Dr. Mitch Katz, director of San Francisco's Department of Public Health, urges people not to go to their doctor unless they actually need medical attention. Since the first reported death in the United States so far, a 23-month-old toddler in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Have a Family Plan in Place

The swine flu is unpredictable as it spreads and new schools are closed every day. Have a plan in place for who will look after your child if his school shuts down. Federal and local government officials are urging employers to be flexible during this time so that parents can be home with their kids if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are schools closing?

Children are particularly susceptible to the swine flu, and illness tends to spread quickly among them. The goal of shutting down a school is to slow the spread of the disease in a community, decrease the number of people who get sick and buy time for the production and distribution of a vaccine for this new virus.

How do I find out if my school is closed?

Most schools have a communications plan for closures and will notify you. You can also call the school or check its Web site. Find the correct contact information by searching for your school on GreatSchools.

Who determines when a school should shut down?

The CDC recommends that local public health officers order a school to close if there is one confirmed or strongly suspected case of swine flu on campus. Once the school is closed, school officials should also cancel gatherings such as sports or social events. To prevent further spread of the flu, parents should not allow their children to get together with other students, or send them to daycare, during the time the school is shut down.

Once a school closes, when will it reopen?

According to the CDC, the school should resume normal operations only after no other confirmed cases have been reported for 14 days after the last case of swine flu. It's up to the school district and local health officials to make that decision.

Comments from readers

"I don't have a family plan and i do not know what i am going todo if my school closes down. HELPPP MEEE :("
"Please check the CDC website for an update on school closing policies - CDC is no longer recommending school closings with just one case of H1N1. There have been numerous cases of H1N1 in Fayette County, Georgia schools and there have been no school closings. However, the schools have taken considerable measures to keep the children separated and healthy, and the Health Dept. has been visiting and monitoring the schools on a regular basis."
"thany you so much,this is really helpful to me to know what to do for the SWINE FLU, not just me but to the others, Again THANK YOU always LASHA-WIL. Wahiawa,Hawaii."
"My son tells me there are a few children sneezing all day long in his class and the teacher never reminds those few to sneeze into their arm or even wash their hands. My son has been reminded of this over and over so it's bothersome to him. He's too shy to speak up and just feels the teacher knows best. "
"I really appreciate all this information and in the way it is explained. Thank you so much in the name of our whole family."
"thank you very much for this information,it was extremely useful"