School officials remain cautious about the possibility of a swine flu outbreak in Sulphur Springs but are hoping that restrictions on out-of-town trips can be lifted next week.
School field trips to out-of-town destinations were canceled last week as a precaution, said Superintendent Patsy Bolton, a move that was made in line with guidelines recommended by the University Interscholastic League and Texas Education Agency.
Officials with UIL, the coordinating body of all inter-school competitions in Texas, announced Wednesday all UIL interscholastic competition would be suspended until May 11.
“UIL and TEA, their guidance has been to not play in any competition that would mix schools, because if somebody else has it, they bring it into your school,” Bolton said. “If UIL raises their restrictions Monday, May 11, like they indicated when they made them, then we will raise our restrictions.”
But local events should go on as planned. Senior Shutout Day, an annual event that allows seniors at Sulphur Springs High School a play-day, was scheduled today to include a trip to Classic Lanes bowling alley.
“I contacted [City Emergency Management Coordinator] Robert Stidham, and he doesn’t see a concern as long as they’re going somewhere locally,” Bolton said.
Stidham said this morning that there are still no confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Hopkins County.
That doesn’t mean that the new strain of influenza virus hasn’t hit town, however, only that it hasn’t been confirmed.
“I have talked with different doctors here, and they have had some cases that are suspect, and they’ve sent them to the state health department,” Bolton said.
But state health officials said in conference calls that a backlog of samples to test for confirmation of the H1N1 virus exists.
“First they told us they were 1,200 cases behind, and then it was 2,500 cases behind,” Bolton said.
Health care professionals were told to treat a suspect case like it was influenza A. The swine flu strain that has infected an estimated 1,447 people worldwide and 40 in Texas has not been as virulent as first feared.
“I think that it has not spread as quickly as they thought at first and is not as contagious as they thought,” Bolton said.
“We don’t like this any more than anybody else does, but we feel that it would be better to err on the side of caution instead of making a mistake and bringing something into our community,” the superintendent added. “I hope they lift all restrictions by the end of the week and we can resume normal activities next week.”
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