Parents worried after Memphis student dies from swine flu

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - One day after an East Memphis middle school student died from swine flu, local health officials held a news conference to address the concerns of Mid-South parents. But not everyone is pleased with the answers.

Many parents are upset they first learned of the H1N1 death of a White Station Middle School from news outlets. A day after his death, the school did not make phone calls to parents or send flyers home.

Parents say they're worried not enough is being done to make sure the school is free of the virus.

"We're talking about something that's serious," said White Station Middle School parent Terry Glover. "This is a virus that can kill you."

Some parents kept their kids home from school Tuesday.

"My mom kept me home because she learned about the death of Michael Howse on TV," said White Station student Dylan Glover.

During Tuesday's news conference, Supt. Dr. Kriner Cash said the district's schools are using federal sanitation guidelines in bathrooms, locker rooms and classrooms.

He also said two Memphis City Schools have a 12% absence rate, but Cash didn't name those schools, and that left parents concerned.

"I think I should have every right to know," Terry Glover said.

Cash, along with the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, said parents will not be alerted to a swine flu problem in their child's school until the absence rate reaches 25 percent.

"I think it's too late then," said Terry Glover.

Kathryn Cook said she thinks public schools should do what her private preschool does."They will be sent home if they're running a fever."

Several weeks ago, White Station Middle School did senrd students home with a flyer advising parents to keep children home when they're running a fever.

Meanwhile, students say hand sanitizer can be found just about everywhere at school.

"We walk into the room, the teacher will make us put the hand sanitizer on," said student Joshua Delph, who added that the school restrooms are very clean.

"They're better than most restaurants'," he said.

The Health Department says hand sanitizer should be your second choice. You should always use warm soapy water whenever it is available.

Click here for more information on H1N1 from CDC.

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