Evanston District 65 School Superintendent Hardy Murphy says that based on new advice from health officials, the district doesn’t plan to close a school if a case of swine flu is discovered among its students.

In a letter to district parents, Murphy says federal and state health officials now are advising that schools remain open, but that any student or staff member who shows symptoms of the illness should stay out of school for at least seven days, or until they’ve been symptom free for a full day.

Here’s the full text of Murphy’s letter:

This letter is part of our continuing effort to keep you informed as we learn new information about influenza A H1N1 (swine flu). As stated before, we continue to be in constant contact with the Evanston Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding updates on H1N1.

In our recent communication with the local health departments, we learned that there is a change in the CDC and IDPH policy and recommendations about school closing related to cases of the H1N1.

Rather than closing schools based on a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of H1N1 in students or staff, it is recommended that students and staff with influenza symptoms remain out of school during their period of illness and recuperation. During that time, they are potentially infectious to others. The recommendation for how long one remains out of school is as follows: whenever there is fever and any of the other symptoms of H1N1, remain home for seven days after symptoms start or until the person is completely well for a full day, whichever is longer.

Common symptoms of H1N1 include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There are many resources available for updated information, about how to prevent the spread of disease, when to call your primary care physician, and when to stay home from school. There are links on the District 65 web site to the Evanston and Skokie Health Departments, to the IDPH, and the CDC.

Available information on our website includes a flu symptom checklist and guidance for families.

Please be assured that District 65 will continue to work closely with local public health authorities and monitor and report absenteeism to them. We will also continue practices that promote good hand hygiene and building cleanliness. Our goal is to keep our students and staff healthy. We appreciate your diligence to this important public health concern.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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