More students home sick with flu-like symptoms this week, school district reports

Vacaville closes elementary school after first-grader dies from H1N1 virus

Many Pleasanton students were out sick this past week after reporting flu-like symptoms. Although the county shows no "documented" cases of Pleasanton students with the H1N1 virus, officials are saying students likely have what is referred to as the swine flu.

Yesterday in Vacaville, one of the city's elementary schools was shuttered after health officials reported that a first grader, who died Sunday, tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

At last week's Pleasanton board meeting, district nurse Susan Han said there was a big, but not huge increase in students with the flu, even though the season hasn't officially arrived yet.

Superintendent John Casey said when news of H1N1 first spread last year, schools were advised to shut down for seven days if a student was said to have been a documented case. This time around, he said, school closures are not recommended and it's being treated similarly to the typical flu.

Only those in high-risk groups are taking the $350 blood test, Casey said, with results being sent to the county. No PUSD students have been confirmed through the blood tests, according to Han, who said doctors are basing diagnoses on clinical observation.

Myla Grasso, spokeswoman for the district, said they are in talks daily with the county public health department, reporting how many students are out sick and following their guidelines.

During the week of Oct. 12, the school district reported higher than normal absence rates of students reporting flu-like symptoms. As of Tuesday, most schools were seeing normal absence rates.

The number of students with flu-like symptoms decreased at Alisal Elementary (from 30 out on Oct. 16 to 17 on Oct. 20) and Mohr Elementary (from 52 to 36), but was up at Valley View (from 18 to 30). Vintage Hills Elementary was being watched with 43 students out sick, with a higher rate for those in the fifth grade. Foothill High also reported 51 students out sick on Tuesday.

Pleasanton Middle School reported 100 absences Monday, 68 with flu-like symptoms, but it decreased to 87 students out as of Wednesday, and only 23 of those with flu-like symptoms.

Parents have expressed concern to the district as well as the Pleasanton Weekly about the high numbers of sick students, and some have even called for school closures. However, the percentage of students out sick appears to be small, about 5 percent of the nearly 1,250 students at PMS, which had the most students out sick.

PMS Principal John Whitney had sent a letter as well as an autodial message to parents asking them to monitor their child's health and keep them from school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducers.

"Obviously, we're all concerned," he said. "One of the things we are trying to clarify is the fact that doctors with the swab tests in the office are not confirming anything but the type A flu, not H1N1. Although, it's entirely probable that what we're seeing is H1N1."

It's a challenge to keep the school flu-free, Whitney added, but the staff is being vigilant to wipe down desks and provide spray and wipes to teachers in the classroom.

Grasso said parents should consider the H1N1 vaccination, which she said is expected to come out in late October.

As for typical flu vaccinations, the Pleasanton PTA Council is holding a clinic from 2 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Fairlands Elementary School, 4151 W. Las Positas Blvd. Shots are $25 and nasal spray is $30. Walk-ins will pay $2 more for shots. To make an appointment, call 866-782-3014 or visit

Yesterday in Vacaville, Browns Valley Elementary School was closed after a first-grader, who died Sunday, has tested positive for the H1N1 virus, prompting the recommendation that the

school be closed until next week.

The child died after showing flu-like symptoms, and test results from the state's Department of Public Health laboratory came up positive for the swine flu, according to Solano County health officials.

"We are extremely saddened and our thoughts go out to the friends and family of this child," Ronald W. Chapman, the county's public health officer, said yesterday.

The Vacaville district school board ordered Browns Valley Elementary closed until next Tuesday "to interrupt transmission of the novel H1N1 virus."

Children from the school, located at 333 Wrentham Drive in Vacaville, were advised to stay at home and not congregate in public places such as malls, churches, and small social gatherings.

The final cause of the child's death is still under investigation and will be determined by the Solano County coroner's office.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by Betty Boop
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm

All I can say is that if PUSD put as much effort into actually making sure the schools were sanitized at the end of the day as they did in the whole H1N1 "Cover Up" (and yes there was absolutely a cover up) than maybe there would not have been as many absences these past few weeks. Denial only holds off the inevitable...

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Hard to do with all the cuts- 6 minutes/classroom is not enough- don't you agree? Did you vote for the parcel tax I wonder, cos I'm hearing a lot of complaining from people who didn't and for some strange reason, thought things wouldn't change......

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

My Harvest Park student doesn't notice any absences in her classes, I'm sure there are some, just not enough for her to notice a difference.
She was sick last week with a low grade fever (never more than 101), sore throat and congestion. She's recovered and I'm thinking that probably wasn't swine flu.
I teach at a school in San Jose and I've had full attendance in my class until last week when one child was absent for two days and this week when one child was absent for three days.

Like this comment
Posted by A PMS Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm

My children attend PMS and came home today with this interesting bit of information. Apparently, some students find it amusing to walk past another student, pretend to sneeze, and deliberately spew mucus and spit into the unsuspecting student's face. This happened to my child today while walking from one class to another. The unknown student walked away laughing. My second child who also attends PMS confirmed witnessing this on more than one occasion. Unbelievable!

Like this comment
Posted by Stay Cool
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Stay Cool is a registered user.

Excellent point!

Like this comment
Posted by annon
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:54 pm

PMS Parent,

" deliberately spew mucus and spit into the unsuspecting student's face"

That IS a crime. Report this to the PPD!

Like this comment
Posted by Betty Boop
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Parent - this has nothing to do with the Parcel Tax (and yes i did vote for it) or cut backs. Many other districts have redirected the duties of the existing janitors. I also know many teachers who have decided to disinfect thier own classes at the end of the day.

I think the bigger picture was missed here. You all should be very upset that the district kept this hush hush instead of taking the right measures to keep the kids safe and healthy.....

Like this comment
Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 24, 2009 at 12:53 am

So are we to assume that some anonymous posters on this site have more information than the school district, doctors, and nurses? PUSD is not in the business of diagnosing illnesses. They are instructed to wait for official word from the County Health Office.

Betty Boop, when was the last time you walked onto one of the campuses? There are signs and reminders all over the place.

Like this comment
Posted by Matt
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 24, 2009 at 9:16 am

It's also the responsibility of the parents to remind their children to wash their hands, and keep hand sanitizer handy.

Like this comment
Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Sycamore Place
on Oct 25, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Here are stats from Alameda County Department of Health:
Alameda County Novel H1N1 Hospitalizations as of October 20, 2009*
Total Age in Years Number Percent Incidence Rate per 100,000
All Ages 224 100.0 14.5
<1 13 5.8 63.9
1 - 4 23 10.3 28.3
5 - 18 41 18.3 14.6
19 - 24 21 9.4 17.8
25 - 35 31 13.8 13.2
36 - 49 36 16.1 10.4
50 - 64 47 21.0 16.3
65+ 12 5.4 7.0
* Includes 66 ICU hospitalizations and 17 deaths.
Hopefully, it will be readable on a larger format.

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