Rockville HS reopens after closing for swine flu

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There have been no reported cases of Swine Flu in MCPS since the May 1 closure of Rockville High School (RHS).

In a May 5 countywide telephone recording sent to all members of the MCPS community, Superintendent Jerry Weast reported that RHS would reopen the following day after being closed three school days.

According to Weast, the swine flu was reported to be “no more severe than the seasonal flu,” by the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In a letter sent to members of the RHS community, Weast said that RHS was closed by orders from Maryland state health officials because the involved student had special needs and was unable to follow sanitary procedures. The letter also advised students to avoid public places in order to stop the spread of the virus.

The school closure occurred right before AP testing was scheduled to take place. RHS Principal Debra Munk worked with county officials to arrange for the students to take their tests at Mark Twain School in Rockville. The county also arranged for RHS students to take their SATs in a separate testing facility to prevent the spread of the virus. All extra-curricular activities were suspended as well.

RHS freshman Genevieve Dubroof does not recall any rumors or incidences regarding the student that led up to the school cancellation.

“I was surprised,” Dubroof said. “But the paranoia going around [about the flu] is so crazy that the county resorted to closing school for a few days over one sick student.”

According to the CDC, the H1N1 virus spreads by human to human contact.

Although the H1N1 virus has been depicted as the “pig disease,” preparation and consumption of pork products does not infect humans with the swine flu. Also, there is no risk for infection in water venues or through the consumption of tap water.

There is no vaccination currently available to prevent the virus in the United States, but researchers are working to prepare one for mass distribution in the event of an epidemic. According to a May 8 Associated Press article, an over-the-counter medication called Tamiflu is being prepared by numerous countries, including Great Britain, in case of a greater outbreak internationally.

As of May 12, there are 2,600 confirmed cases of the flu in the United States. Health officials advise everyone to take standard precautions to keep themselves safe from the virus.