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School Nurses Don't Know How They'll Isolate Sick Kids

School Nurses Don't Know How They'll Isolate Sick Kids

New York Daily News

October 27, 2009

There’s no place to isolate sick, feverish kids if swine flu hits hard at the city’s most overcrowded schools, nurses are warning.

Health rules require staffers to put masks on schoolchildren with fevers of 100 degrees or higher and place them in a separate room so the airborne H1N1 virus doesn’t spread.

Dozens of schools, however, are functioning at more than 150% of capacity.

“I have a wonderful principal and a very supportive staff,” said Sandra Ellen Bell, the nurse for more than 900 students at three schools in one Harlem building. “But the school has expanded, so there’s very little room now. It’s a real problem.”

A nurse at a Queens school where dozens of children fell ill last year from swine flu warned that her school is “not set up to properly handle the need to isolate a large number of children.”

“You cannot create a room from thin air,” she said.

Education Department spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said she is confident school staff “will handle this situation” and make sure sick kids are kept separate.

Myra Munoz, an aide at Intermediate School 52 in Inwood, isn’t as sure.

“There are no extra classrooms,” Munoz said. “The clinic has two small two rooms, but there is not enough space.”


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