Closing Schools to Save Lives


1918_fluClosing schools in response to the U.S. flu epidemic in 1918, say experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, actually may have substantially reduced the overall effects of the outbreak.

This runs counter to prior analysis stating measures instituted in 1918 had little effect on the overall death toll. On the contrary, cites The Washington Post:

St. Louis closed its schools at a time when flu was causing 21 more deaths per 100,000 people per week than what had been seen in previous years. That step–the earliest taken by any of 33 cities analyzed so far–appears to have reduced St. Louis’s flu mortality by 70 percent.

This year, the Post reports, schools in Yancey County in rural and mountainous western North Carolina closed for 11 days due to a flu outbreak. Surveys of this community showed little opposition to school closures over the short term.

How would you respond to flu pandemic-induced school closures in your community? Does your school have a response plan?

Here’s an index of flu-planning resources for schools from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.