Central Texas District Closes Schools For The Week

WORTHAM (October 7, 2009)—The Wortham ISD in Freestone County has closed its three schools until next week because of a high number of absences, many of which are attributed to flu-like illnesses.

Monday is a school holiday.

Classes resume Tuesday, the district said in a letter posted on its Web site.

“Attendance at the elementary school is currently at approximately 82% with more students leaving every hour,” the letter written by Wortham ISD Superintendent Albert L. Armer said.

“This event has also affected several members of our faculty and staff who have either been ill themselves or who have had to take personal days to care for family members.”

The district did not cancel football games, but is encouraging parents to keep elementary school students home rather than allowing them to attend.

Schools and other district facilities are being disinfected, the letter said.
The Wortham ISD has about 480 students.

In North Texas, the Independent School District in Denton County canceled classes at all four of its schools for the week because of the number of students and staffers calling in sick.

Schools there also reopen next Tuesday.

In a letter to parents, the district’s superintendent, Dr. James Monaco, said the decision to close schools until next week was made “due to an unusual amount of absentees among the students and staff of the district.”

“While there has been a significant increase in the number of students out sick, there have been minimal confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu at the school. However, we want to take every precaution to avoid the spread of illness,” Monaco said.

During the unscheduled break, the district’s facilities will be sanitized, Monaco said.

Except for varsity football and volleyball, all extracurricular events were also canceled.

The Aubrey ISD has about 1,600 students.

What Is Swine Flu?
The current virus is described as a new subtype of swine flu or A/H1N1 not previously detected in swine or humans. The virus combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have not seen before.

How Is It Transmitted?
People cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Most influenza viruses, including the swine flu virus, are not spread by food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe. No food safety issues have been identified, related to the flu. Preliminary investigations have determined that none of the people infected with the flu had contact with hogs. The virus is spreading by human-to-human transmission.

Swine Flu Symptoms
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and include:

Lack of appetite
Runny nose
Sore throat

What To Do If You Get Sick
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Severe or persistent vomiting

Steps You Can Take To Stay Healthy
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze
Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them

Links And Other Resources
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has a toll-free information line to answer any questions you may have about the swine flu. The number is 1-888-777-5320

Federal Flu Information Web Site

World Health Organization Human Swine Influenza Site

World Health Organization Human Swine Influenza Site

CDC Human Swine Flu Investigation Site

Texas Department Of State Health Services Swine Flu Site

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