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11 O’odham schools closed by swine flu

Citizen Staff Writer



Eleven schools on the Tohono O’odham Nation are closed Tuesday through May 11 because of four confirmed cases of the swine flu.

The action came half a day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its recommendation on closing schools. The new recommendation, based on a lower severity of the flu, is to keep schools open.

On Monday, the Indian Oasis-Baboquivari Unified School District board voted to close all its schools. All other tribal, private and Bureau of Indian Education schools and the Tohono O’odham Community College followed suit, officials said in a news release.

Classes are scheduled to resume May 12.

Despite the CDC reversal Tuesday, Indian Oasis-Baboquivari district and Bureau of Indian Education schools will remain closed, said Andrew Lorrentine, deputy director of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Health and Human Services Department.

He said officials from the other schools are meeting to review the new recommendation.

The schools are San Simon School (K-8), Santa Rosa Boarding and Day School (K-8) and Tohono O’odham High School from the BIE; Ha:san Middle School and Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School; the district’s Indian Oasis Primary School, Indian Oasis Intermediate School and Baboquivari Middle/High School; and San Xavier Mission School, Southwest Living Word Academy and the Tohono O’odham Community College.

None of those who contracted the H1N1 virus was hospitalized, the release read, and all are recovering.

Meanwhile, 10 schools in Nogales remain closed until Monday as a precautionary measure after one elementary school student tested positive for swine flu.

One Marana Unified School District student and one in Tucson Unified also came down with swine flu, but those districts opted to keep schools open.

Most students showed up for classes on Monday at Tortolita Middle School in Marana, but about 175 students, or 40 percent, at Safford Engineering/Technology Magnet Middle School in TUSD did not. On Tuesday, absences at Safford were reported at 150.

On the Tohono O’odham Nation, school closures were “precautionary” and no other cases have been confirmed, the release read.

The Indian Health Service set up a call center to answer health-related questions: 877-606-9301.

Even with the five days off, the elementary and high schools will have enough days to meet the state’s requirement of 180, officials said. The district’s middle school will have to make up four hours and will do so by adding 20 minutes a day for 12 school days.

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