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TEA Correspondence

A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.

May 1, 2009

To the administrator addressed:

In light of the growing number of confirmed H1N1 flu (commonly known as swine flu) cases in the state, the Texas Education Agency offers the following guidance to local school officials.

The health and safety of Texas students is our number one priority.  Students, faculty and staff who present with fever, upper respiratory illness and other flu like symptoms should be considered as a possible case of H1N1 and should seek medical advice (as indicated previously in my letter dated April 27, 2009).  These symptoms in addition to increased flu activity should be considered in local decisions.  Please be aware that merely sneezing or coughing without a fever or other symptoms of the flu does not require intervention.  Many students will merely have seasonal allergies or asthma and do not pose a threat..

Districts should follow the guidance of local health officials in determining whether to close a campus or district.  Local school boards, acting in concert with community health agents should resolve the questions based on their own unique circumstances.  School campuses should consider closing after a confirmed case of H1N1 influenza, or the isolation of an un-typable influenza A strain from an individual from the campus.  If laboratory tests can not be provided in a timely manor, increased presence of the above influenza symptoms on the campus should also be considered.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has informed us that small districts will be advised to close after one campus closure, medium districts will be advised to close after two campus closures, and large districts will be taken on a case by case basis in consultation with local medical and public health authorities.

Additional guidelines were also posted today from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC guidance can be found at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/K12_dismissal.htm
If the determination to close has been made, please report the closure to the agency’s Emergency Management division by phone at (512) 463-9371 or by email to philip.cochran@tea.state.tx.us or mike.peebles@tea.state.tx.us.  Waiver applications for both missed instructional days and low attendance are available at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/waivers/waiverapps.html.  For more information about waivers, please contact the Waivers Division at (512) 463-5917 or by email at jim.davis@tea.state.tx.us .
School districts that have closed campuses are asked to submit to Pearson all available testing materials for campuses that have completed testing in accordance with specified shipping deadlines.  School districts should make plans to complete testing on the campuses that are currently closed within the first week after students return to school.  For example, if a closed campus reopens on Monday, May 11, all testing for that campus should be completed by Friday, May 15, and then testing materials shipped to Pearson no later than the following Monday for processing.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Student Assessment Division at (512) 463-9536.

Questions have arisen regarding enrolling or returning students from the known host country (e.g., Mexico).  DSHS is strongly recommending that such students be enrolled or return to school no sooner than one week after arrival from the host country. 

The University Interscholastic League has suspended all UIL interscholastic competition until May 11 and will be forthcoming with the rescheduled dates.  Please monitor the UIL website www.uil.utexas.edu for updates.  Local school officials have discretion in determining whether to cancel other school events, and I encourage district officials to consult with local health officials on these determinations.

Sincerely,

Robert Scott

Commissioner of Education
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