Brooklyn Schools Close In Face Of Flu Rumors
As three Brooklyn Catholic schools closed Wednesday in the wake of rumors of their students becoming ill with flu, parents and health officials searched for answers. NY1's Taunia Hottman filed the following report.
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The parking lot at Good Shepherd School in Marine Park, Brooklyn was empty Wednesday, except for a father-son game of softball. The Catholic school is shut down until Monday because a student has the flu.
The boy's mother told the school her child had H1N1, the swine flu virus strain, but the school and the Department of Health have not confirmed that is true.
"Until it's confirmed, we're just going to try to keep a level head and not get too crazy over it," said Richard Russo, a parent of a Good Shepherd student.
Workers are also spending the rest of the week cleaning St. Brigid's School in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which closed after students were told a sick student has a sibling at St. Francis Prep, which already closed due to swine flu.
"I asked the principal what was going on. She said one of the sixth-graders had symptoms of the flu," said St. Brigid's student Robin Camacho.
"It spreads so easily that it doesn't come as any great surprise that we would have to take precautions," said Pastor James Kelly of St. Brigid's.
Later Wednesday, officials at Bishop Kearney School in Bay Ridge sent a letter to parents saying the school would shutter to allow a team to thoroughly sanitize. They reported that students may have come in contact with those who have the swine flu virus, and cancelled the school's weekend student activities.
Just as schools took precautions, students' parents said they would do the same.
"We're going to take our daughter to the doctor. Hopefully she doesn't start getting any symptoms," said parent Robert Camacho.
"That's what the principal is supposed to do. I think they're doing the right thing and it should be done," said parent Deborah Luciano.
Although Department of Health officials said it did not recommend closing down the three Brooklyn Catholic schools, they said that school officials are allowed to take any preventative steps they deem necessary.
Some Good Shepherd students told NY1 that some of their seventh- and eighth-grade classmates visited Cancun, Mexico for a spring break trip around Easter and that some Bishop Kearney students visited Mexico at about the same time. Yet the Department of Health has not yet confirmed that the students were exposed to the swine flu virus.