Another HISD school closed due to swine flu

April 30, 2009 3:20:36 PM PDT
A fourth school in our area is closing its doors, now that the city of Houston has confirmed its first case. It's possible we may see more schools shut down. Even probable cases of swine flu are enough to close up and send kids home. [SWINE FLU: Symptoms, questions and answers and more]
[SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Map of closings related to swine flu]
[INTERACTIVE: Interactive guides to spread of swine flu]
[CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Questions answered by local expert]
[TRAVEL ALERT: What the CDC wants you to know ]

In our area right now, there are two confirmed cases -- a teenage girl in Fort Bend County and now a 10-year-old boy in Harris County. Test results are still out on dozens more cases.

The city health department says the 10-year-old boy who attends school at HISD's Lyons Elementary School likely contracted the swine flu during a trip to the San Antonio area recently. They say he did not travel to Mexico.

Officials say the boy is going to be OK, but they can't say how many students he unknowingly exposed to the illness at school. Some parents were visibly upset after rushing to school to pick up their children. Maria Coronado is worried her kids might have been exposed to swine flu, and she isn't the only one.

Parent Joyce Banda said, "I think it's just crazy. It's kind of scary, though. Makes you wonder if you need to take your kids to the doctor or what."

HISD started calling parents and shutting down the school around lunch time, shortly after getting word of the positive test. Parents of about 900 students were notified and told to come pick their children up. "It's good," said parent Oscar Garza. "If there's somebody sick in there we don't want our kids to get sick."

Authorities say the move is precautionary. HISD similarly shut down two other campuses today -- Harvard Elementary and Hamilton Middle schools -- because students there are suspected of having the swine flu. The HISD closings came hours after 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. Public health officials say it is not necessary to clean the schools, just to keep them closed for now. If the swine flu virus is inside, they say, it will then die.

HISD spokesperson Norm Uhl explained, "They're telling us to close the school and allow no one in the school for at least seven days."

So these schools will be closed for about a week, unless things change. HISD has set up a hotline for parents to call with any questions at 713-556-6005, weekdays 7am to 7pm.

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