Washington schools with flu urged to remain open - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington schools with flu urged to remain open

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn is urging schools to stay open when the swine flu hits.

He wants to avoid what happened last spring when some schools closed after the first swine flu cases were reported.

"Under our current plan, we are advising schools to stay open," Dorn said. "There are specific steps to take if a student or teacher becomes ill, but we don't want a repeat of what happened last May when schools in our state closed after the first reports of H1N1 surfaced."

The superintendent's office is telling school districts they can continue education by urging families to keep sick students at home.

Unless the severity of the virus increases, Dorn said guidance from all levels of government is to keep schools open. The final decision to close an individual school rests with district superintendents and school boards or a local public health officer, he added.

Since the first case of the new flu strain was reported in Washington in April, 154 people in the state have been hospitalized and 14 have died. Cases are expected to increase through the fall and winter.

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