St. David’s, a private Catholic school for boys on East 89th Street, closed today after several students reported flu-like symptoms.
“Asking the students not to come to school today was the best way to control the spread of the symptoms through our community,” said St. David’s Headmaster, David O’Halloran. “It was the responsible thing to do for the safety and health of our boys and teachers.”
However, O’Halloran said that there have not been any confirmed cases of swine flu.
Early today at an unrelated press conference about implementing an emergency alert system for the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stressed that the Upper East Side school chose to close, and did not shut down at the city’s recommendation.
Another independent school, Convent of the Sacred Heart School, shares a gym with St. David’s. Sacred Heart, which is at 1 E. 91st St., sent parents an email explaining that the institution “has not experienced an increase of illness.” However, administrators decided to stop using the gym until the school for boys is cleared. Sacred Heart representatives did not immediately return calls for comment.
Other private schools in the borough have started to implement health plans to prevent the spread of the influenza, said Natasha Sahadi, co-chair of the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York, an umbrella organization. Sahadi, who is also director of admissions and enrollment management of The Town School, described these plans as “independent initiatives” specific to each school.
As of May 18, St. David’s is the 14th school that has been closed in New York City because of the influenza outbreak. Today, City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein also announced the closure of three more schools in Queens because “of the unusually high and sustained number of influenza-like illness over a number of days.”
“We continue to see a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City,” Frieden said in a statement. “As the virus spreads, we will look to slow transmission within the individual school communities by closing individual schools. Unfortunately, we fully expect to see more severe illness in the coming days, particularly among people who have underlying health problems. I want to stress how important it is for New Yorkers with underlying health conditions to get treated if they have fever with either cough or sore throat, and to see a doctor and discuss the need for preventive medicine if they have been exposed to someone with flu.”
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