President Barack Obama on April 29 said schools should close temporarily if any students have confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu. He was reiterating guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Education Department. Here are their recommendations for schools:
Schools and child care centers should close if they have a confirmed case of swine flu or a suspected case that is linked to a confirmed case. All school-related gatherings should be canceled, and parents and students should avoid gatherings outside of school as well.
Decisions about closing other facilities nearby should be left to local authorities. Big gatherings linked to schools or other places where swine flu cases have been confirmed should be canceled.
Schools and child care centers should consult with local and state health departments. They may consider reopening if no additional confirmed or suspected cases are found within seven days.
Schools should inform students, parents, and staff about the symptoms, which can include cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and fever.
They should stress preventive measures, such as washing hands frequently and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Students with flu-like symptoms should be referred to a health care provider. Experts say there is no need to single out students who have recently traveled to Mexico; they should only be asked to stay home if they have flu symptoms.
Those who have the flu should stay home for seven days after the onset of the illness. But other so-called "social distancing" measures are not recommended.
The Education Department has created an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for education leaders and school staff to ask questions and report any closings because of swine flu.