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Susanne Smith, (503) 947-5637

May 3, 2009

Susan Castillo issues guidance on H1N1 emergency school closure process

SALEM - State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo issued the following statement today regarding Central and Forest Grove School Districts closures due to probable H1N1 confirmation and offered guidance on emergency school closure process.

"Over the weekend, both Central and Forest Grove School Districts, in close consultation with their local health departments, announced school closures due to probable confirmed cases of H1N1 in their school communities. Additional testing of the cases will be conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the H1N1 virus.

"The Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD) is advising that school closures will be made based on the extent and severity of the disease in the local area. It is critical for school districts to work closely with their local health departments if considering closure.

"Central and Forest Grove school districts conferred with their education service districts to review school closure policies and procedures and announced closure based on the recommendations of the state and local health departments.

"OPHD has asked the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to notify school districts that in the event a school closure becomes necessary as a means of slowing the spread of the virus in their community, the school district will issue the closure announcement and remain the point of contact as it would in any type of school closure situation.

"The community should be advised that all sports, clubs, or other school activities are cancelled during this emergency closure period and that there should be no congregating at any of the schools on the playgrounds, or other district sites or facilities. Updates on the school closures should be posted at the district and education service district’s websites.

"The Oregon Department of Education is currently reviewing OAKS testing policies and procedures and will issue guidance to schools where testing has been disrupted by an H1N1 emergency closure.

"Additionally, ODE is consulting the with Oregon State Board of Education regarding the possibility of a temporary waiver of the Instructional Time Requirement (OAR 581-022-1620) for those school districts effected by a H1N1 emergency closure. I know this has been a challenging year for our schools. Oregonians are committed to ensuring our students receive as much vital learning time as possible. I will continue to work over the coming months to get as much support and resources to our students as possible. It is critical our classrooms have the tools they need to help our students achieve.

"It is important to remain calm and continue to be vigilant for flu-like symptoms in your students and staff. Contact your local health office with any concerns or questions you have. These announcements remind us how important it is to continue to encourage students to take preventative measures to remain healthy by: 1) covering cough or sneeze with a tissue; 2) washing hands often; and 3) staying home when sick."

For more information on the status of K-12 school closures go to: www.ode.state.or.us/go/flu. Visit the DHS flu website at www.flu.oregon.gov for H1N1 information in English and Spanish. The Oregon Department of Human Services has established a toll free H1N1 flu hotline: 1-800-978-3040.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Morgan Allen, Communications & Legislative Director, Telephone (503) 947-5737

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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Oregon Department of Education
Voice: 503-947-5600
Fax: 503-378-5156
255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203

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