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Oakland schools may have avoided flu vacation

Last week, as schools from San Francisco to New York were closing temporarily to avoid the spread of the H1N1 virus, I kept waiting for the swine scare to hit Oakland.

So far, it hasn’t happened. And today, the CDC says it’s no longer recommending school closures in response to the virus — just for schools and families to be vigilant about sending sick kids home. You can read the new guidelines here.

Here’s what California’s top education official (and OUSD’s boss) Jack O’Connell had to say about the change:

   “I am pleased that the Centers for Disease Control has determined that the level of severity of the H1N1 flu does not warrant automatic school-wide student dismissal even in instances of a confirmed case of the virus. While local health officials may always determine if it is necessary to close a campus due to a public health threat, this new guidance will allow our schools to resume their normal operations and keep healthy students in class and learning.

            “I appreciate the initial concern for our school children and staff that lead to the recommendation of dismissing students from any campus that had a confirmed or suspected case of the infection. It is important to note that the recommendations on steps we can all take to keep ourselves and our schools healthy remain in place. Students and staff who are sick should stay home. Everyone should cover their coughs and sneezes, and frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. I continue to encourage schools and districts to stay in close contact with public health officials for any new information about this flu virus and any potential future changes in student dismissal policy.”

image from Lucid Nightmare’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.