Swine flu closes four schools; no new flu deaths reported
Staff Report | November 05,2009
MONTPELIER -- Four schools in Vermont have closed to date as a result of student absences in large part caused by the swine flu, including the Websterville Baptist Church and Christian School in Orange, the Health Department reported Thursday.
“By all measures and like 47 other states, influenza illness is still widespread and still on the rise in all areas of our state,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis during a weekly update on the status of the H1N1 virus.
Websterville Principal Bill Croteau confirmed that the school had closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, after about 25 percent of the 143-member student body was absent Monday. The school reopened Thursday, and while Croteau had not taken a head count, he said it appeared that students were returning to class.
“We’re so family oriented, we have a lot of younger siblings and older siblings here,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time if one member gets it, the rest of the family will get something.”
Croteau said he and most of the parents agree that it doesn’t make sense to hold classes when large numbers of students are absent.
“Parental support for this was across the board,” he said of the decision to close for two days. Croteau said his motto is: When in doubt, keep them out.
Davis said the other three schools that have closed are Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Lyndon Institute and the Isle La Motte School. She said that while the general recommendation is to keep schools open if possible (studies show that closing a school does not reduce transmission of the disease, she noted), that call should be made locally.
“This concept of encouraging local decision-making makes sense,” Davis said. “They have the best sense of what’s going to make sense for their schools.”