Despite news that schools all over the country — including two in Vacaville — have closed due to outbreaks of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, local campuses are keeping their doors open.
One of the reasons, according to Galt Elementary School District superintendent Karen Schauer, is because illness absences are not above average for this time of year.
In the Galt Joint Union High School District, the absence rate is slightly higher than this time last year, according to Colleen Hurley, who is overseeing H1N1 concerns. "One difference is that students who are absent are tending to be out for several days — sometimes up to five — rather than just one day."
However, she added, absence rates would need to be much higher, and direction to close would come by the state health department.
"We have had our share of colds and flu bugs, but nothing out of the ordinary," said Oak View Elementary principal Michael Scully. "No chance we will be closing our doors." Schauer, too, said her district is not considering shuttering schools at this time. However, a recent conference call with County Health Officer Glennah Trochet provided an option that school districts could consider closing a classroom versus a whole school, depending on the outbreak pattern at the school, Schauer added.
At the beginning of September, parents were alerted by letter after three Galt High School students were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. The cases were reportedly mild, according to school officials.
Meanwhile, Lodi Unified School District has been informed by the county health department that there are confirmed cases of district students with the H1N1 virus. Exact figures, however, are unavailable due to new state reporting policies, according to Ivie Gonsalves, coordinator of the district's special services.
"They have told us that any flu-like illness at this time is probably H1N1," she added.
The district, however, has not received any direction to close schools. If 20 percent of students in a classroom or on a campus are out with influenza-like symptoms, the state department of public health recommends closure, Gonsalves said.
Lodi Unified has already targeted 13 of its sites to offer free seasonal flu mist vaccines, mainly to students whose families may not have health insurance.
Officials are waiting for the H1N1 vaccine from the county health department, which expects to make it available by Dec. 1, Gonsalves said.
Meanwhile, the district is encouraging staff, parents and their children to get vaccinated for both the seasonal and H1N1 flu viruses. School nurses continue to promote good hygiene and proper hand-washing techniques, while staff is being vigilant in cleaning surfaces.
At Oak View in Acampo, Scully, who is also the district superintendent, said the county's $500 pricetag to offer the on-campus service was cost prohibitive. Galt's high school district, too, has no plans on offering vaccinations at this time, according to Hurley.
Sacramento County H1N1 flu vaccinationSacramento County Public Health will offer FREE H1N1 Flu vaccination clinics at selected locations. Visit www.scph.com for the latest information.
Sacramento County's Public Health Department has released dates and locations of upcoming public vaccination locations, including ones in Galt, Walnut Grove and Isleton.
Just this week, San Joaquin County Public Health Services announced that due to depleted supply, it will discontinue giving swine flu shots until further notice.
For more information, call 468-3862.
Other public locations, including Rite Aid on Lodi Avenue, have discontinued offering any flu vaccines, so check with your medical provider for availability.