Fort Worth Ready If Swine Flu Goes Back to School

The first day of school is more than a month away, but Fort Worth schools are already thinking about how handle another swine flu outbreak.

While concerns about the virus, H1N1, have faded in North Texas, worldwide deaths have doubled in the past three weeks, from about 330 at the beginning of this month to more than 700.

Overseas, swine flu worries may extend summer vacation for students across Europe.

And while such closures aren't in the cards for North Texas students, the Fort Worth Independent School District wants to be ready for future local outbreaks.

"We're concerned of anything that's going to be disruptive to the educational process, certainly," said Cecelia Speer, a district spokeswoman. "We just wanted to make sure that we're prepared to deal with it as effectively and efficiently as possible."

When the flu struck North Texas in late April, the Fort Worth ISD shut down all 144 of its schools on the health department's recommendation. Its 80,000 students got a six-day "flu break."

Fort Worth ISD administrators will meet Wednesday afternoon with Tarrant County Public Health to review the action and the responses of the school district and the health department.

"There are things that may need to be done differently, and this is a chance to improve," said Dr. Sandra Parker, of Tarrant County Public Health.

The health department continues to defend its recommendation to the schools in April, but said officials can adjust their future response if necessary at Wednesday's meeting.

But the department said it is keeping its options open.

"Possibly school closures might be recommended in the future," Parker said. "It is no longer a current recommendation of the CDC to do that, but again, we don't know what the fall will bring."

In the United States, 263 people have died of the virus. Tarrant County has reported 197 total cases since the outbreak first began.

Contact Us