Mexico swine flu masks 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Four Jewish private schools in New York City decided to close this week, after several reported cases of swine flu and dozens of student absences.
The schools, all located in Brooklyn, followed their pubic school counterparts in temporarily shutting their doors to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, according to Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the area. Magen David Yeshiva, Yeshiva Tiferes Yisroel, Masores Bais Yaakov and Yeshiva Shaarei Torah are expected to stay closed until June 1, after Shavuot.
"Each private school makes decisions on its own," said Hikind, adding that school officials had observed that many students had not shown up to school in recent days. At least two students have confirmed cases of swine flu.
"I doubt very much they will be the last four private schools in our community," he said.
Hikind estimated that about 3,000 students were out of school because of the closures, excluding students at a fifth school rumored to be considering closure, as well.
Callers who dialed the Masores Bais Yaakov girls' school on Monday heard a message from the head of the school, informing parents that it was closed.
"Important notice," said Rabbi Yosef Gelman in the message. "Because of reported incidents of flu in the Flatbush community and in consultation with local pediatricians, Masores Bais Yaakov has decided to close school for the remainder of this week."
On Friday, Magen David Yeshiva notified parents that two students - one in high school and one in elementary school - were infected with swine flu. Although "neither case is serious, we have decided to close school this coming Tuesday and Wednesday so as to minimize the spreading of the virus," administrators wrote.
To date, 40 public schools have been closed in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. A handful of private schools in New York - including Horace Mann School in Riverdale - have temporarily shut down.
Since the virus emerged in April, some 12,515 people worldwide have become ill, according to the World Health Organization's latest count on Monday.
The WHO reported that 91 people had died worldwide, including two in New York. The latest victim in New York was a woman in her 50s who lived in Queens, health officials said. On May 17, Mitchell Wiener, a Jewish assistant principal, was the first New Yorker to die of swine flu. Health officials have said both individuals had underlying health conditions.
Hikind said people living in his district were concerned. They became even more anxious on Friday, he said, after the city announced that a Borough Park public school was closing after 17 students and faculty came down with the flu.
"When a school says they're closing, that's a serious thing. There is concern and worry," Hikind said. "Suddenly this has become very alive and on people's minds."