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Blackstone Elementary School Closed Due To Flu Concerns

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson announced today that the William Blackstone Elementary School in the South End will be closed for seven calendar days because of concerns about influenza. The school will be closed beginning Monday, June 8, and will reopen on Monday, June 15. The adjacent Blackstone Community Center will be closed for the same time period.

Dr. Johnson made the decision to close the school temporarily in consultation with the Boston Public Health Commission and Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Officials said they hope that the temporary closure will prevent new infections and avoid unnecessary illness.

With this announcement, a total of ten Boston Public Schools have been closed because of influenza concerns, including: Boston Latin School in the Fenway, Umana Middle School Academy in East Boston, Frederick Middle School in Dorchester, O’Bryant School of Math & Science, Condon Elementary School (all of which have since reopened), and the Jackson/Mann K-8 School, Horace Mann School for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, which share a building in Allston, the Eliot K-8 School in the North End, and the Otis Elementary School in East Boston. Other public and private schools around the state also have been closed recently.

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Dr. Johnson noted that BPS staff work closely with Boston Public Health Commission officials to monitor attendance rates daily in all 143 Boston Public Schools. In schools with rising rates of high absenteeism, health officials follow up to investigate cases of illness in order to determine whether or not to recommend temporary closure.

“We take the decision to close schools very seriously,” said Dr. Johnson. “In buildings where we see widespread cases of flu, we believe it is best to help prevent new infections by keeping members of the school community isolated from one another for one week.”

The Blackstone serves more than 600 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Attendance rates have declined steadily this week, including 114 students out today, as well as several staff, and other children seen by the school nurse with illness during the school day. Follow-up calls to families confirmed that many of the students are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

City officials are advising students and staff from closed schools to stay at home for seven days and not to congregate at other sites. They also advise that those feeling ill follow up with their primary care provider. Persons without a primary care provider should call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.