Bay Area schools that have closed due to flu-fighting efforts were scheduled reopened today as state and federal health officials no longer advise canceling class if a student has the H1N1 flu virus.
Alameda County reported its first case and so far, only case of the flu earlier this week--a woman in her 50s who has since recovered. Myla Grasso, spokeswoman for the Pleasanton Unified School District, said 13 students and one staff member were tested for H1N1 last week, but there haven't been any reports of the swine flu. In keeping with the state and federal recommendations reverse course on flu guidelines, Grasso said the district is urging children to remain conscious of possibly spreading germs.
"Absences related to flu-like symptoms are declining and our main push right now is to continue to emphasize the importance of hand washing and covering your nose and your mouth when you cough or sneeze," she said.
Confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu virus, or swine flu, have popped up in most Bay Area counties. Last week, state and federal health departments advised school closures of 10 to 14 days if any students were suspected of having this novel flu strain.
However, as the virus proves to be mild, public health agencies in Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa and Marin counties are reversing course and reopening schools.
Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, announced new school-related recommendations Tuesday, saying classes should go on, but any students with flu-like symptoms should stay home, or be sent home, for at least seven days.
"We've entered a new phase of response to the novel H1N1 outbreak," Horton said in a statement. He emphasized that children and adults should still be vigilant in using "good cough and hand hygiene etiquette."
At least 14 schools were closed across the Bay Area as of Monday. Tuesday these schools announced plans to reopen as soon as possible.
In Contra Costa County, the five elementary schools already closed will reopen today, spokeswoman Kate Fowlie said.
Contra Costa County made the decision in the wake of new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county health officer Dr. William Walker said in a statement.
In Marin County, health officials announced Tuesday that Tamalpais High School will also reopen today.
In Santa Clara County, top public health officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib Tuesday recommended the county's seven closed schools also reopen today.
Berkeley's Malcolm X Elementary School will also resume classes today, according to the city's public health division.