Swine flu: 'Don't keep kids off school'

PARENTS have been warned not to keep their children off school because of concerns about swine flu.

Anthony Bond

PARENTS have been warned not to keep their children off school because of concerns about swine flu.

A number of schools have confirmed cases of the virus this week.

This has led to some parents contacting the school to request that there child be pulled out. In many cases this is because of concerns for vulnerable family members at home.


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However, Wendy James, head teacher at Murrayfield Community Primary School in Ipswich, said some parents had refused to take their children in on Tuesday after a boy was confirmed to have the illness. This led her to warn that those children would be registered as an unauthorised absence.

Suffolk County Council issued headteachers with advice this week which stated that it is not necessary to keep children out of school to avoid the disease.

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Ian Brown, who is coordinating responses to swine flu for Suffolk County Council's schools, said: “Medical evidence and advice suggests that it is not necessary to keep children out of school to avoid the disease, because the chance of being infected is perhaps as high out of school as it is in school.”

He added: “There is no need to keep a child away from school if they are well, even if they have been in contact with a known case. The best advice for all parents is to send their children to school, unless they are showing symptoms of the virus.”

Schools which have confirmed cases of swine flu this week include Stoke-by-Nayland Middle School, Beaumont Community Primary School in Hadleigh and Hadleigh Community Primary School.

Pupils from St Albans High School in Ipswich also returned to class on Tuesday after it was closed for a week because of the virus.

Gary Pilkington, head of Hadleigh Community Primary School, said: “Parents are concerned about swine flu but we are trying to point parents towards the Heath Protection Agency website which gives clear guidelines about how to deal with the situation.

“If any parent is concerned about any other family member or a friend who might be a significant risk from flu-like virus then they need to discuss with me whether that child is in school or not. These decisions are taken on personal circumstances.”

Stella Burton, headteacher at Beaumont Community Primary School, said: “Parents seem to be concerned if members of their family have underlying health issues. We have spoken to the children about being as hygienic as they can and the staff are aware what the symptoms are and we have a strong relationship with the parents. The school is functioning as normal.”

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