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HISD no longer sending out swine flu notifications.


HOUSTON — If a child has swine flu in a Houston Independent School District school, you might not be notified about it.

11 News obtained a document that went out to HISD principals. It advises them that notifying parents by letter or phone message about swine flu cases in schools is optional, but not recommended or required.

“We’re really following the lead of the city health department and the CDC,” said Norm Uhl, spokesperson for HISD. “They’re telling us, now that they know more about H1N1, to treat it just like seasonal flu. With the seasonal flu, we never send out letters.  We never send out automated phone messages.”

In fact, HISD says it had more children absent this time last year, than this year.  Also, H1N1 is a milder flu than previously thought.

Last year, some HISD schools were closed due to suspected and confirmed swine flu cases.  At the time, the Centers for Disease Control had recommended school closings because the swine flu was thought to be a more dangerous strain of flu.

CDC recommendations have changed since then. It’s now believed that the swine flu is not as serious as previously thought.

Still, many HISD parents say they’d like to know about swine flu cases in their child’s school.

Wendy Burk said her son was recently diagnosed with Influenza A.

“His pediatrician said you might as well call it swine flu,” said Burk, an HISD parent.

Burk says she has good reason for wanting to be notified about swine flu cases in her child’s school.  She didn’t realize her son had been exposed to swine flu, so she let him play with a baby who was waiting for a heart transplant. Her son later came down with the virus.

“I had to call her mother to let her know,” said Burk. “If I had known my son, or someone in my son’s class had that, I would have been really careful and not have had my child around that infant.”