High absenteeism and significant influenza-like illness reported
BOSTON – Superintendent Carol R. Johnson announced today that two more Boston Public Schools will close for seven calendar days due to significant flu-like illness: the Carter Development Center in the South End and the Louis Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain. The schools will be closed beginning tomorrow, Friday, June 12, and will reopen on Friday, June 19. (All Boston Public Schools are closed on Wednesday, June 17 for Bunker Hill Day.) The Agassiz Community Center adjacent to the school also will be closed during this time period.
Dr. Johnson made the decision to close the schools 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 15 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 in Roxbury, Condon Elementary School in South Boston, 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 (all of which have since reopened), the Blackstone Elementary School in the South End (reopening Monday, June 15), the William E. Russell Elementary School in Dorchester, the Charles Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale, and the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury (all reopening Thursday, June 18). Other public and private schools around the state also have been closed recently.
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 Carter Development Center serves a medically fragile population of students in kindergarten through grade 12 with severe disabilities.
Enrollment and absentee rates at each of the two schools today are as follows:
· Agassiz (K0 - 5): 533 students enrolled, 104 absent today;
· Carter (K - 12): 23 students enrolled, 9 absent today.
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.
To minimize the spread of illness, the Boston Public Health Commission urges the public to:
· Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
· Cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your inner elbow and not into your hands.
· Stay home from work if you are sick, and keep your child home from school if he/she is sick.
· Contact your primary care physician or visit your local health center or hospital if you experience flu-like symptoms.
For more information, visit www.bphc.org/h1n1flu.