Students kept home because of flu

A reader brought to my attention the fact that last week, the county health department reported that six students at one Fremont school tested positive for the flu. The health department’s daily H1N1 flu update mentions the Fremont incident on page 1, under “New Information,” and at the top of page 4.

I asked the district’s spokeswoman, Nicole Steward, about this. She said that it was actually five students, not six, from Irvington High and that they tested positive for the regular seasonal flu. However, the district kept eight other students (a total of 13) home as a precaution because these other students had been in contact with the ones that exhibited the flu symptoms. About four of the students who had no symptoms tried to return to class early last week, but the school refused to let them back until they had been cleared.

All the students were cleared to return to school today, Steward said.

The person who brought this to my attention expressed concern that the public was not made aware of the potential H1N1 outbreak, saying that parents of kids with asthma, diabetes or other health conditions would want to know.

Steward said the district did not send out a schoolwide notice to parents about what happened because no one’s tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

Sherri Willis, spokeswoman for the county’s public health department, would not comment specifically on the Fremont case, but said that generally speaking, individuals who are past the infectious stage are allowed to return to school or work.

She also warned against public over-reaction to news that a cluster of students from one school are ill.

“We’re careful to wait until the results (are in) because even if it is a cluster, it’s not necessarily swine flu,” she said.

She added that the county has seen few schools with a cluster of potential H1N1 cases.

Linh Tat

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