Swine flu concerns have closed a private school in the Bronx and the number of confirmed cases on Rikers Island has quadrupled, but city officials are hoping warmer weather will slow the spread of the virus this weekend.
Horace Mann School, in Riverdale, announced today that it will close through the rest of the week. It's the first Bronx school to close due to the swine flu outbreak, and won't re-open until May 26. The school said it's been monitoring an "unusually high number of student absences," but none has officially been attributed to the swine flu, according to a released statement.
The swine flu is also spreading at the Rikers Island jail, Mayor Bloomberg said. There are five confirmed swine flu cases and five more probable cases. That's up from just one confirmed case there on Monday.
While the prison can't close its doors, the number of shuttered city schools does not appear to be slowing down. More closings are likely, but forecasts of warm weather may help slow the spread of the virus that's claimed one life and is suspected in another, Bloomberg said.
A total of five schools have been added to the list of those shuttered today, bringing the total number of closed schools to 18 and counting.
"The bottom line is a few more schools are likely to be closed," Bloomberg said. "I'd be surprised if that didn't happen. We are not out of the woods yet."
On Monday, it was announced that four public schools in three school buildings were closed for as many as five school days, and an Upper East Side private school was closed indefinitely.
P.S. 209 in Whitestone, which is home to 544 students and a smaller school for students with disabilities, was shuttered after a total of 24 students at that school building were found to have influenza-like illnesses over the last week. P.S. 19 in Corona, which houses nearly 2,000 students was closed after 49 students came down with the flu. And P.S. 32 in Flushing canceled classes after a total of 30 students of a student body of 633 came down sick.
"There are no right answers," Bloomberg said. "And getting the data is as difficult as determining what to do with it."
Outgoing New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said Monday that "we continue to see a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City. As the virus spreads, we will look to slow transmission within individual school communities by closing individual schools. We fully expect to see more severe illness in the coming days."
The St. David School, a prep school on East 89th Street, was not directed by the city to close but decided to close as a precaution.
Below is a list of the public schools schools closed today:
IS 238Q - reopening Friday, May 22
PS 16Q - reopening Friday, May 22
P255 (located at PS 16Q) - reopening Friday, May 22
IS 5Q - reopening Friday, May 22
JHS 74Q - reopening Tuesday, May 26
PS 107Q - reopening Tuesday, May 26
MS 158Q - reopening Tuesday, May 26
IS 25Q - reopening Tuesday, May 26
World Journalism Preparatory (located at IS 25Q) - reopening Tuesday, May 26
PS 233 (located at IS 25Q) - reopening Tuesday, May 26
IS 318K - reopening Tuesday, May 26
PS 19Q - reopening date TBD
PS 32Q - reopening date TBD
PS 209Q - reopening date TBD
P9 (located at PS 209Q) - reopening date TBD
And the private schools that are closed:
St. David School - reopening date Thursday, May 21
Horace Mann School - reopening Tuesday, May 26
Our Lady of Lourdes - reopening Tuesday, May 26
The United Federation of Teachers has set up a hotline for each district in Queens, and a hotline for each of the city's other boroughs. To find the hotline in your area, click here.
Do you have questions about the swine flu? E-mail them to us and they'll be answered by a doctor during our televised special "The Truth About Swine Flu" airing on Wednesday at 5 p.m. on 4 New York.