The Obama administration is finalizing guidelines that would scale back when the federal government recommends closing schools in response to the swine flu pandemic, reports the Washington Post. More targeted guidance would mark a change in the government’s approach from this spring, when health officials suggested that schools shut down at the first sign of the H1N1 virus. They later relaxed that advice. This fall, federal authorities would recommend closures only under "extenuating circumstances," such as if a campus has many children with underlying medical conditions, a senior U.S. health official involved in the talks said. The official added that discussions are continuing and that no decision has been made. Schools also might be advised to close if many students or staff members are already sick or otherwise absent, officials said. "The framework is to try to keep schools open to the extent possible," the senior health official said. School closings this past spring raised questions about whether they slow the spread of H1N1 and are worth the educational and economic cost. The federal government’s decision could have a far-reaching effect on tens of millions of Americans, the economy, and other countries wrestling with similar choices…

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