Travis Elementary closed for cleaning

May 16, 2009 4:52:16 PM PDT
A school in the Heights is closed with hundreds of students sick. The health department said a dozen students have confirmed cases of swine flu. [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 ]

The district and the Centers for Disease Control are taking a closer look at Travis Elementary. HISD, lawmakers, and the CDC are putting a plan in action aimed at getting rid of the virus.

Three schools in the Heights have closed due to swine flu over the last month. Hamilton Middle and Harvard Elementary are back open. Travis just closed on Friday and will not reopen until May 26.

The CDC walked through the halls of Travis Elementary on Saturday. By Tuesday, they will have two of their disease investigators here to work directly with the school district. The school will have begun washing down this campus from top to bottom.

"I'm really scared about the swine flu," said student Jesse Sullivan.

Jesse, 7, may not understand much about the virus sweeping through her neighborhood in the heights, but she understands this much.

"Everybody is talking about it, even the principal," said Jesse.

It turns out the school officials don't have a full grasp on the illness either. That's why they opened their doors to a CDC representative.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee requested the special visit after 12 confirmed cases of swine flu led the district to shut the school down on Friday.

"They are the experts, Sherlock Holmes, if you will, of disease investigation. We need investigators to calm people down, to give them the right information," said Jackson Lee.

Local and state health officials joined the tour which looked at both the school grounds and the chemicals used to clean them. School leaders said they will conduct a thorough wash down of the campus next week using the recommendations the CDC gives them.

However, even the experts said they are still hard at work, trying to learn as much as they can about the swine flu and how to prevent it.

"We're still early on in this. We can't say that we have a 100% clear understanding of the disease. At this point, nobody really does," said John Fleming of the State Health Services.

Jackson-Lee also announced that she has asked the federal government to reimburse the school district for its expenses. The district said it has lost money because of employees missing work and because of the cleaning supplies they've had to buy.

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