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Open Vs. Closed: How Different Schools Deal With Swine Flu03:03

This article is more than 11 years old.

The State Department of Public Health is reporting 529 cases of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, in Massachusetts — most of whom are young children and teenagers.

The outbreak has caused numerous school closures.

In Boston, five public schools are closed Monday because of the outbreak. But in many other communities, schools remain open despite some confirmed swine flu cases.

The Oak Hill Middle School in Newton has at least nine cases confirmed, but is still open. It's a decision that has parents there talking.

"I'd love to know more about who's making the decision and what metrics they're using to make these decisions," says one parent. "Because it seems like some schools — mostly private schools — are closing down when they have one or two cases, whereas we have a more serious outbreak and they're choosing not to."

"I don't think it's as serious as it is, but then I think about it — that they actually have cases here — then I'm like, 'Oh,'" another parent says.

The Department of Public Health recommends that students with swine flu stay home for seven days, but has not ordered schools to close if cases surface.

The closure decision is left to superintendents and other school officials.

We spoke with Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who heads the Boston Public Health Commission, about what her directive is regarding the decision for schools to close or remain open.

Meanwhile, the town of Shrewsbury has six confirmed H1N1 cases, but its schools are still operating. We also spoke with Superintendent Anthony Bent about why that is.

This program aired on June 1, 2009.

Bob Oakes Twitter Host, Morning Edition
Bob Oakes has been WBUR's Morning Edition anchor since 1992.


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