Local Elementary School to Reopen After Probable Swine Flu Case

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Malcolm X Elementary School in South Berkeley will reopen Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday due to a probable case of H1N1 swine flu.

The Berkeley Department of Health and Human Services ordered the closure of the elementary school on Sunday after a parent of two children at the school who experienced flu-like symptoms was diagnosed with the strain, said Janet Berreman, the department's acting health officer.

But because the illness is milder than expected, she said federal, state and local guidelines have changed, allowing the department to reopen classes starting today.

"The disease is not as severe as we feared it might be at the moment," Berreman said.

The department decided to reopen the school after consulting with health officers around the Bay Area and Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett, she said.

Health officers in Marin and Contra Costa counties have also decided to reopen schools, according to Berreman.

"This is not one group deciding, but many bodies looking at the same information and coming to the same conclusion," she said. "I think that its very reassuring."

Should the strain become more dangerous or infect too many students and faculty, Berreman said the department would consider closing the school again.

"We do see it as an effective tool for controlling a severe disease," she said. We are more comfortable with the severity of (this) disease now, being more like a seasonal flu."

Contact Zach A. Williams at [email protected]

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