More schools close as swine flu spreads

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Katy ISD's Beckendorf Junior High School and Lamar Junior High in Rosenberg closed Friday because of suspected cases. HISD's Hamilton Middle School and Harvard Elementary are also closed.

There have been confirmed cases at Episcopal High School, Lyons elementary in HISD and Yeager Elementary in the Cypress-Fairbanks school district.

Most schools with confirmed swine flu cases scheduled a one-week closing. Friday came word that the CDC doubled that.

"We want to make sure that we diminish the opportunity for kids to share their germs in that close school environment," said Harris County Health Director Dr. Herminia Palacio.

That means Episcopal high school in Bellaire and Lyons Elementary in HISD, among others, will be closed a week longer than anticipated after announcing confirmed cases of swine flu. Other schools closed based on probable cases are awaiting test results. But health administrators also urge parents not to let their children socialize while school is out.

"It's not the time to get 20 of your closest friends and get 20 of your closes friends and get together in a small room to have a party," said Palacio.

Laura Fowler owns a pottery business in the Heights and her child attends one of the schools that's temporarily closed. Two weeks is a long time.

"They have to follow those rules, I guess," said Fowler. "But it puts a lot of people in a big bind."

It's a real issue for working parents.

"It does put a lot of people at a disadvantage that don't work from home or don't have child care," parent Rachel Kapar.

In a way, it's the health equivalent of a hurricane when schools are closed and eventually, days have to be made up, but for now, it's about disease prevention.

"We have a choice and that choice is to make sure that we protect every child who comes to us every day to be educated," said HISD school board member Larry Marshall.


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