In response to documented absenteeism and illness data, Chicago Public Schools officials in consultation with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) ordered Northside Learning Center to be closed Monday as a precaution against the potential spread of H1N1 (swine) flu virus.
Northside Learning Center, located at 3730 West Bryn Mawr Ave., is a special education facility with 288 students.
Expected absences at this time of the year are about one-third the reported number.
Under protocols issued earlier this week by CPS in conjunction with CDPH, students at schools that show an unusual pattern of absences and reported illness symptoms are being sent home. In the case of Northside Learning Center, families of more than 10 percent of the 288 student population have taken them to doctors for H1N1 testing.
The decision to close Northside Learning Center Monday follows a recommendation to do so from the Chicago Department of Public Health, CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman said.
“We have said repeatedly that H1N1 is and will continue to be a fluid situation, and that we would act in the best interest to protect the health and welfare of our faculty, staff and students,” Huberman said. “We continue to coordinate our response with CDPH and its public health professionals, as we continue to manage a very fluid public health situation.”
Huberman said surveillance data which documented attendance and student illness from the school indicate that the number of absent students has been increasing throughout the week, which raised further concern among school and health officials. The number of students who were reported having telltale flu-like symptoms of fever and cough further drove the decision to close the school, he said.
On Wednesday, CPS reopened Joyce Kilmer School in Rogers Park, which had been closed for a week after one of its students was diagnosed with a confirmed case of H1 N1.
“We will consult with CDPH in the coming days on how long Northside Learning Center should remain closed, but we will continue to be cautious as this public health issue progresses,” Huberman said.
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