Federal health officials are considering whether to stop recommending closure of schools where students test positive for swine flu, a move that could unburden parents from Brentwood to San Jose who are scrambling to provide last-minute child care.
No decision has been made, and 11 Bay Area schools and at least three preschools won’t open this morning.
But Dr. Richard Besser, the acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that using school shutdowns to limit the spread of the novel bug may not be effective because infected kids are turning up in communities where the virus already has a foothold.
Furthermore, Besser said, kids with the virus – influenza A, subtype H1N1 – are not getting any sicker than children with seasonal flu. He said his agency’s experts were discussing a scaled-back response that would put a premium on “personal responsibility,” with parents urged to watch their kids closely for signs of sickness and keep them home for a week if they are ill.
“We are looking at our school closure guidance,” Besser said, referring to a recommendation that schools with a swine flu case shut down for up to two weeks, “and we’re having very active discussions about whether it’s time to revise them.”