Parental Attitudes and Experiences During School Dismissals Related to 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) — United States, 2009


September 10, 2010 / 59(35);1131-1134

During the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, child care center and school dismissals (i.e., temporary closures) were common and occurred in the majority of states across the United States. However, little is known about the economic and social problems parents face during such dismissals. To learn more about parents’ attitudes and experiences after short-term school dismissals related to H1N1, CDC and the Harvard Opinion Research Program (HORP) conducted a randomized telephone poll of 523 parents from 39 states whose child care center or school had been closed temporarily in response to H1N1. This report summarizes the results of that poll, which found that 90% of parents agreed with the dismissal decision, and 85% believed dismissal effectively reduced influenza transmission. In most cases (58%), dismissal lasted ≤3 days. Overall, most parents did not report adverse effects related to dismissals of short duration. Only 3% of respondents said dismissal was a major problem, and 75% reported that it was not a problem. Approximately 20% of parents reported that an adult in the household missed work because of the dismissal, and 19% had a child who missed a free or reduced-cost lunch, but only 2% and <1%, respectively, said these were major problems. The findings in this report underscore that when making a decision to close child care centers or schools, public health officials should consider the acceptability of the resulting disruption to students, families, and communities.

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