Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
First NY Death Connected to Swine Flu, City Closes More Schools
Monday, May 18, 2009
An assistant principal has become New York's first death in connection to the swine flu virus. The city has closed a total of 11 schools over the past few days, because hundreds of students have come down with flu-like symptoms. And the mayor is scheduled to give an update on the city's response to the situation later this morning.
Mitchell Wiener had worked at IS 238 in Hollis for than 30 years. He was 55 and worked as a math teacher before becoming an Assistant Principal two years ago. Mayor Bloomberg called him a well liked and devoted educator and said his death is a loss for the city schools.
I-S 238 was closed on Thursday when the city reported that Weiner and four students had confirmed cases of H1N1 or swine flu virus. Wiener's wife has questioned whether the city should have acted sooner because her husband and dozens of students had fallen sick the week before.
A spokesman for Flushing Hospital Medical Center said complications besides the virus likely played a role in Wiener's death. By Friday the city had closed six schools and yesterday five more were shut in Queens, including a Catholic school, after high numbers of students were reporting flu like symptoms. The health department says it's closely tracking the virus, which appears to spread very quickly.