A decision made Tuesday morning to close campuses at the Robstown Independent School District was quickly reversed Tuesday afternoon, after new guidelines for school closures were released by the Centers for Disease Control.
Following an emergency meeting Tuesday morning, Interim-Superintendent Roel Lara announced a decision to close all Robstown campuses, because of a report of a probable H1N1 infection at one of the district's elementary schools.
"We have a probable, and several others pending, and we don't want to wait," Lara said. "We're going to hopefully err on the side of caution."
The district received information from the student's family physician, Lara said, which was investigated by the district's head nurse and reported to administration officials Monday.
In addition to the one probable case, there are perhaps as many as 20 other possible cases, Lara said.
"The doctors are over-loaded and they have appointments on Wednesday and Thursday," Lara said. "Although they do have the flu-like symptoms, it doesn't mean they're (infected).
"Hopefully, we've overreacted. As opposed to the alternative."
Lara's decision was rescinded, however, shortly after the CDC announced new guidelines during a 1 p.m. press conference.
Phyllis Castro, the head nurse for the Robstown ISD, said the CDC changed its guidelines in that conference, reversing an earlier recommendation that districts with probable cases close operations.
"Now they're saying that although you may have a positive (result), that's not going to be enough to warrant the closure of the schools," Castro said. "The TEA also is echoing the same recommendation."
Those guidelines have repercussions that would in-effect penalize any district that did decide to close.
"Should we close, our school days would not be waivered and our staff would not receive compensation," Castro said.
The district will continue to update the situation on its Web site, at www.robstownisd.org, Castro said.
Even before Tuesday's announcements, some parents seemed to be making a decision on their own. Attendance at the district has decreased significantly, Lara said, since the Corpus Christi Independent School District made the decision to close its campuses last week.
"There's a lot of kids who are sick, and it's causing a buzz," Lara said. "Our attendance is way down."
As of Monday, there were 574 suspected cases of H1N1 Virus in Nueces County, according to information provided by the Corpus Christ-Nueces County Public Health District. In addition to those numbers, four cases are listed as "probable" and one case has been confirmed.
The closure of Robstown schools was to begin Wednesday morning, with students scheduled to return on May 14.
Other area school districts declined to follow the lead of the Corpus Christi Independent School District, which cancelled all classes indefinitely following the announcement of a confirmed case of H1N1 at Miller High School last week.
At Calallen ISD, Deputy Superintendent Patrick Romero said their campuses would remain open.
"At this time, there are no plans to close the campuses," Romero said. "We have no confirmed cases of H1N1."
At Tuloso-Midway ISD, Superintendent Cornelio Gonzalez said several students had been tested, but so far all results had come back as negative.
News editor Tim Olmeda contributed to this report.