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 www.pleasantonpta.org.
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.