School Closes Because of Flu Outbreak
St. Charles East High School near Chicago announced that because of the extraordinarily high rate of absence due to the flu, it will be closing for the remainder of this week. Special events, such as the rival high school football game this Friday, were also canceled.
Forty-five percent of the student body was absent on Tuesday of this week, 972 students. None of the illnesses have been confirmed as H1N1 (swine) flu, but many of the students display flu-like symptoms.
Other schools in the district remained open with about a 12% absentee rate, a rate considered normal for this time of year.
District Superintendent Donald Schlomann consulted with the Kane County Health Department and all agreed to close the school for a minimum of five days for the safety of all of the students.
Other schools in the district remained open. The highest absentee rate at any of the other schools was about 12 percent, officials said. That is more in line with the absentee rate this time of year.
The closing of St. Charles High School comes less than two weeks after the H1N1-related death of a Naperville North High School freshman. Michelle Fahle, who was reported to have an undiagnosed heart defect, was the 20th death from H1N1 flu in the state of Illinois. A day later, Francis W. Parker School in Chicago closed after 100 students were sent home with flu symptoms over two days.
Teachers will check in with students over the next three days to help school officials determine when to re-open the school.
As of October 10, 2009, which is typically deemed the start of flu season, the CDC reports that 13,921 specimens were tested because of flu-like symptoms, with 61.4% of those verified as 2009 H1N1 Influenza A. In region 5, where Chicago is located, 27.1% of specimens tested positive for flu.
Sources Include: The Chicago Tribune, CBS News, and the Centers for Disease Control