Swine Flu School Closings: Fort Worth ISD, Lewisville, Ponder, Plano, Frisco, Dallas, Carrollton, Denton

I’ve been paying close attention to the Swine Flu school closings in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, especially since I live in Plano TX myself. Swine Flu (H1N1) concerns has lead Fort Worth ISD to close all schools in the district, with Lewisville ISD and Ponder ISD following suit.

The Swine Flu debate rages on, in regards to whether or not school districts and officials are overreacting to the Swine Flu/H1N1 outbreak, especially since Dallas ISD has yet to close all schools at least temporarily, and hearing the word “pandemic” from health officials is quite unsettling for everyone.

Tawnell Hobbs, a Dallas ISD reporter, recently asked if school districts are overreacting to the “swine flu thing” on her blog:

“We’re trying to understand why school districts have reacted differently to this swine flu thing. Here’s what some districts are doing:

*Dallas is closing Daniel Webster Elementary after one student tested positive for the virus.

*Fort Worth ISD decided to close all of its campuses after one student tested positive for swine flu. Three students in the district also are listed as “probable” for having the virus.

*Cleburne ISD decided to close all of its campuses because four students could possibly have the virus.

*Lewisville ISD shut down a campus because three students possibly have it.”

The discussion in the comments section on Tawnell’s post from readers pretty much sums up what I’ve thought about the school closings in Fort Worth, Ponder, Lewisville as well as other cities and suburbs.

Ever heard the phrase, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”? Schools that make the decision to close due to concerns about Swine Flu are said to be overreacting and in sheer panic mode, and schools in districts like Dallas that haven’t (yet) decided to close cause people to ask, “Why hasn’t Dallas ISD closed because of Swine Flu”? Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Canyon Creek Elementary in Richardson TX closed its doors due to a confirmed case of Swine Flu, and the fact that Canyon Creek Elem. is just a stones throw from our office, the news really hits home for us because my boss’ niece and nephew attend Canyon Creek.

Some highly popular public events, like the annual Mayfest, have been canceled while other events have not, leaving some to feel that there are mixed messages about swine flu being given to the general public living in North Texas: “There are still a lot of unknowns with this illness, which is why most communities are using extreme caution”.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Directory Zachary Thompson defended his agency’s aggressive approach in dealing with the swine flu crisis. “This is not overkill; this is serious,” he said. “If we had a similar scenario that you have in Mexico, it would definitely not appear to be overkill.” County medical director and health authority Dr. John Carlo said it continues to be a very “fluid situation.”

Hearing news reports and seeing photos of parents in Fort Worth attempting to drop off their children at school after numerous announcements were made and continue to be reported on radio, television and the internet that all schools in Fort Worth were closed due to Swine Flu, seemed rather odd to me. Hello??? Have you not turned on your television news or listened to the radio and heard the news/updates about swine flu at all? Have you even heard about Swine Flu/H1N1 and/or read information about how to protect yourself and loved ones from getting the flu?

H1N1 Swine Flu- How to Protect Yourself

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their website with information for the general public, including an explanation of What is H1N1 (Swine Flu):

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in April 2009 in the United States. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

Is this new H1N1 virus contagious? CDC has determined that this new H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people? The symptoms of this new influenza A H1N1 virus in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against this new H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

There is a right way and wrong way to wash your hands. Parents, be sure you are taking the necessary precautions to educate and protect yourselves and your children from becoming sick, by teaching your children how to wash your hands correctly for a full 20 seconds with soap and water. Stay updated on the list of school closings in North Texas from regular updates on WFAA.com’s school closings page.

What do you think? Do you think school districts are doing enough to prevent the spread of H1N1 (swine flu) throughout their schools, or do you think the school closings are just overkill?

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13 Responses to “Swine Flu School Closings: Fort Worth ISD, Lewisville, Ponder, Plano, Frisco, Dallas, Carrollton, Denton”

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  1. Todd Morris says:

    Hi Lin,

    Like many decisions that we supposedly want our government agencies to make, I think it’s definitely as you pointed out: “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

    Realistically, the school districts are probably over-reacting … but, if they are, it’s good news for All of us … it means this thing is not as bad as it could have been.

    Something else to consider though, they may be ridiculed a little bit for an unnecessary closing … but it’s nothing compared to what the public reaction would be if they chose to keep schools opened after a confirmed case, and more kids became infected; or even worse died.

    Sometimes it really is better to be safe than sorry. Even if it does feel like it’s probably overly cautious.

    On a more personal note, talk about great timing, our whole family has a cold. But Ana was at an (unrelated) doctor’s appointment for Jasmine on Friday, and both her and Jaiden got examined when the doc noticed they were sniffling. Fortunately it appears as though my self-diagnosis of a cold was correct, and we are all going to live 🙂

    Todd

    • Lin says:

      Hi Todd,

      You make a very good point. Better safe than sorry is right. Over reaction or not, I dare say that if a child got infected with the swine flu virus (and possibly died) and schools knew about the confirmed case but did nothing to close schools, lawsuits would be what we’re all hearing about. Since this H1N1 virus is a “new flu virus” and there’s still a lot to learn about how exactly it’s spread etc, being a parent myself and about to become a grandmother within the next couple of weeks, I’d much prefer that the health officials and school officials “over react” as opposed to doing close to nothing.

      Also, being in the health field myself, we’ve had quite a few patients who have cancelled/rescheduled appointments simply because they’re concerned about being around anyone who may “possibly” sneeze or cough in the waiting room. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I’m glad to hear all of you are doing fine and that Ana and Jaiden only have a cold. The unknowns about the swine flu have people quite concerned anytime similar symptoms arise; understandably so.

  2. wilson says:

    Lin, most people said we’re overreacted in this Swine Flu. However, I think we should do whatever it takes to protect ourselves from this horrible pandemic. Like the old saying, “It’s better to prevent than cure”…

    If we ignored it, then you might be regretted, once you’re getting it!

    • Lin says:

      Hi Wilson,

      I’d much rather hear or read people say that the reactions to swine flu (H1N1) are blown out of proportion, as opposed to people ranting that not enough is being done to stop this virus from spreading.

      • wilson says:

        Lin, the Swine flu has been reported in many Asian Countries, included Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, South Korea and so on. Gosh, it seems a little bit out of control and I hope this won’t turn into a huge pandemic like the 1918 Spainish Flu!

  3. Great article. I think that there is no solution to this problem…at least not a good one. There is no end game. What happens in 2 weeks when there are still reported cases? Do the kids go back to school?

    What about all the Chik-fil-A, McDonalds playlands, Bounce house places, etc. that are over capacity with children mixing together today because of school closings? At some point we are all going to have to be sent home for a solid week!

    Great article!

    • Lin says:

      Hi Holly,

      I’ve been hearing news reports that say the swine flu virus may very well rears its ugly head once again in the fall of this year. A lot of people seem to feel that school closings are an extreme reaction to the flu virus, but if their child got the virus or someone they love got the virus, I bet they’d be singing a different tune.

  4. Janet Fox says:

    Hi Lin,

    I don’t understand why people feel that closing down schools is an extreme measures. The school authorities are just being cautious and like all of us waiting for confirmed reporta of the virus so that they can reopen the schools. Being a parent myself, I cannot sit comfortably when I know my child is at school interacting with other people and is susceptible to the virus.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Janet,

      I would bet money that if the school closings were about a virus already known to be deadly, like viruses from past generations that killed millions of people, there wouldn’t be any complaint about closing any schools. The fact that the swine flu/H1N1 is a “new” virus and not enough known about it yet, a lot of people are of the opinion that this virus is no different at all from the “regular flu” and feel that health authorities or school officials are simply overreacting.

      I would also bet money that if just one of those people (who say its all overreaction) had a child who came down with swine flu and possibly died, they would have wished the schools had closed down, and you can bet there would be lawsuits filed constantly claiming not enough was done to protect their child.

      I have no problem with the schools closing down temporarily, and many schools in this area have reopened. Better safe than sorry is a very good thing, but then again…, it often becomes a matter of damned if you do, damned if you don’t in society.

      • Janet Fox says:

        Hmm I know! Glad to know that schools have started reopening here. I just read some news that the tourism industry is suffering due to the news of the virus. And on that front, I have to say that people are sure overreacting. One cannot just sit at home and cut out from the whole world just because there is some deadly virus out there. It is important to perpetuate relevant information so that people get to know what is happening nd make an informed choice.

        • Lin says:

          Hi Janet,

          I’ve also heard reports telling people not to travel to Mexico and some other destinations due to the swine flu. Perhaps it’s a overreaction, but then again…, what if this virus were to become a full blown pandemic and people weren’t warned and then all heck breaks lose and the virus continues spreading everywhere and people are getting very sick and dying. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.

          • Janet Fox says:

            Yeah.. I guess prevention is better than cure. I really wish this virus jazz settles down soon and things get back to normal. There is a lot of unrest whenever something like this happens.

  5. Steve says:

    I believe that the school districts closing schools is an over-reaction. The media has hyped this a bit too much. I live in New Mexico and I am somewhat afraid that swine flu will come here because Mexico is so close, but I can’t stop going out because of that. I hope that it does not become a pandemic like we all fear though.