School officials might be faced with an especially tough dilemma this school year, if the projected “second wave” swine flu pandemic affects American school children in high numbers.
Because autumn is prime time for seasonal flu, health officials have projected a sharp rise in the number of people who will contract swine flu, or novel H1N1 virus, in the coming months.
That means thousands of school-age children could come down with swine flu symptoms, forcing school officials to consider massive school closings, similar to what happened in the spring of 2009.
An Associated Press report outlines how the school systems in different countries plan to respond to a potential swine flu pandemic during the 2009-10 school year.
School officials have said that schools in the United States and Great Britain plan to remain open, except in extreme cases of swine flu outbreak. In fact, one school official in the U.S. said closing schools won’t stop or necessarily slow the spread of swine flu, but rather simply delay the inevitable and prolong the period of outbreak, according to the AP.
In France, however, officials might call for closing a school for six days if three or more students exhibit swine flu symptoms, the AP article points out.
Health and education officials note that because the swine flu has proven to be more mild than previously feared, there is little reason for a panicked response to the illness. However, if the virus were to become more deadly, school closings might be seen as the prudent choice to protect young children and slow the spread of the illness.
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