Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

CDC issues new guidelines for swine flu planning

Back to school season this year includes a new twist: Planning for a swine flu breakout.

The government released Friday new guidance for educators and public health officials, aimed at containing outbreaks while avoiding keeping kids out of school any longer than necessary.

Schools should only close if large numbers of students come down with swine flu, officials said.

Sick kids could return to class 24 hours after a fever is gone, a change from recommendations that people with swine flu stay home for a week.

Final decisions on school closings rest with local officials. But they look to the guidance coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education and related state agencies.

No one is eager to repeat the confusion that followed the virus outbreak last spring, when more than 700 schools in half the states temporarily closed their doors, several in Hillsborough County.

At the time, school officials were acting on the CDC's advice, which changed as it became clear the virus was milder than initially feared.

Hillsborough educators know that parents will have questions.

"Under what circumstances would you close a school? What do we need to do? And please assure us if kids are sick, you'll send them home," said Stephen Hegarty, spokesman for Hillsborough schools, ticking off a few on his mind. Officials will try to have as many answers as possible before classes resume at the end of the month, he said.

But swine flu remains an evolving public health threat. The government's latest guidance reflects uncertainty over what may happen in the fall.

"Basically, this will be a tiered response. If there's a handful of children at a school who might be sick, we want the parents to keep them home. If the numbers escalate dramatically, then we might have to close the schools," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

Like their Hillsborough counterparts, Pinellas officials are planning for the flu.

"Communication with parents and employees about taking precautions to protect themselves and children to reduce the spread of the flu has begun as we approach the start of a new school year and will continue on a regular basis," said Pinellas schools spokeswoman Andrea Zahn in an e-mail.

Unlike regular seasonal flu, this virus has not retreated during summer and so far has infected more than 1 million Americans.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

CDC issues new guidelines for swine flu planning 08/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 7, 2009 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bail hearing underway for woman accused in Selmon crash that killed three


    TAMPA — Amber Nicole Perera sobbed and hung her head at the defendant's table Wednesday as prosecutors displayed photos of the charred remains of a Tampa family who died in a flaming crash that Perera is accused of causing Thursday on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

    Angela Perera, charged with DUI manslaughter in a crash that killed three on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway on Aug. 10, 2017, bows her head as she appears in court on Aug. 16, 2017. Circuit Judge Margaret Taylor tells Perera to compose herself or she'll be removed from courtroom. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  2. Gradebook podcast: Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend on education reform


    Billy Townsend doesn't mince words. He considers Florida's education accountability system a fraud. He's likened the state Legislature to an abusive spouse. And he does it all in public, whether at the board table or on his blog. A former …

    Polk School Board member Billy Townsend
  3. Wesley Chapel man accused of possession of child porn


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A Wesley Chapel man was arrested Tuesday morning after authorities say he tried to buy child pornography from more than 10 users on a social networking app called MeetMe.

    Ryan Soto, 25, of Wesley Chapel was arrested Tuesday morning after authorities say he tried to buy child pornography from users on a social networking app called MeetMe.
  4. There's a local memorial for Linkin Park's Chester Bennington this weekend

    Music & Concerts

    Because he sang so often, and so passionately, about the trials of pushing through pain and desperation, Linkin Park fans have taken the July 20 suicide of singer Chester Bennington really hard.

    Chester Bennington, left, performs during the MMRBQ Music Festival 2015 in Camden, N.J. Hundreds of Linkin Park fans are gathering to pay tribute to late singer weeks after his death. (Associated Press [2015])
  5. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.