Two HISD schools closed until further notice

April 30, 2009 10:08:16 AM PDT
Two schools in HISD are closing indefinitely and it's all because of two new suspected cases of swine flu in the city of Houston. [SWINE FLU: Symptoms, questions and answers and more]
[SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Map of closings related to swine flu]
[INTERACTIVE MAP: Map and timeline of swine flu cases]
[CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Questions answered by local expert]
[TRAVEL ALERT: What the CDC wants you to know ]

Harvard Elementary School and Hamilton Middle Schools are closed until further notice. Late Wednesday night, the city of Houston Health Department informed HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra of the two cases, which are not yet confirmed, and advised the closings as a precaution.

Spokesperson Norm Uhl said he had some information on the ill students.

"The only thing I know about these two students is that we have a 9-year-old girl at Harvard and a 14-year-old female at Hamilton Middle School," he said. "We got a call from the City Health Department late last night, saying that there were two probable not confirmed, but probable cases and they felt that we needed to close these schools immediately and that is exactly what we did."

Automated phone messages were sent to parents and staff shortly after midnight. Principals and faculty were going to be at the schools to make sure to let parents know of the closure if they didn't get the message.

Right now, there are no cleanups going on at the schools. No one is being allowed back into the buildings at this time.

"We've been advised by Dr. (David) Persse that cleaning at the school as we have seen in other parts of country is not necessary. I believe the virus dies after a period of time," said HISD Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra. "The schools, facilities need to remain closed with no human beings going into the building."

Health officials say the virus dies within a couple of days and when people come back they will be safe again. At the earliest, the schools may reopen on Monday.

Dr. Persse with the Houston Health Department said yesterday alone the city had about 200 samples from sick individuals and it's increasing every day.

"Samples will be taken from any patient who we suspect may have this virus. That's done generally in a doctor's office or in a clinic and they are forwarded to the city's lab where some screening procedures are done," said Dr. Persse.

Hamilton Middle School has about 1,300 students and 90 employees. Harvard Elementary School has 600 students with at least 50 employees.

HISD has set up a hotline for parents to call with any questions, just call 713-556-6005, weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

These closings come on the heels of the closing of Episcopal High School after it was learned that a student there, who lives in Ft. Bend County, was confirmed to have contracted swine flu.

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