213393 School closures in response to A/H1N1: Issues for decision-makers

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:35 AM

Tamar Klaiman, MPH , O'Neill Center for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Because schools can be amplifiers of the spread of influenza and children seem to be particularly vulnerable to its complications, hundreds of U.S. schools closed in response to the 2009 A/H1N1 outbreaks in the Spring of 2009. This experience surfaced a number of challenges that can have important implications for the capability of the broader public health system to respond to pandemics and other public health emergencies. In an in-depth case study based on media reports, observations of public health meetings, and discussions with decision-makers, we will address: the goals of school closure, what closure means in practice, whether to close schools, who makes the closure decision, and when schools should re-open. Implications of these various challenges will be reviewed and considerations for decision-makers in future public health emergencies will be presented.

Learning Objectives:
Assess the conditions that determine effective public health decision-making concerning whether and when to close and reopen schools in response to an H1N1 outbreak; Evaluate factors that influence successful implementation of school closure and re-opening policies; Identify the range of decision-makers that may need to be involved in effective school closure and re-opening policies.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Academic credentials, knowledge and experience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.