Swine flu prompts PR to delay school year

July 29, 2009 12:45:22 PM PDT
Public schools across Puerto Rico will start classes a week late to fight the spread of swine flu, officials announced Wednesday. More than 1,700 suspected and 135 confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported in the U.S. Caribbean territory of 4 million people. Ten swine flu deaths have been confirmed, and health officials are investigating 24 other fatalities that may have been caused by the virus.

Education Secretary Carlos Chardon said his department bought $8 million worth of products such as soap and hand sanitizer. Another $15 million was distributed to more than 1,500 public schools so they could buy related items, he said.

Schools are expected to prove by Aug. 7 that they meet hygiene standards and are ready to open on Aug. 10.

"If there is a school that for some reason is not complying with protocol, I am the first to acknowledge that it should not open," Chardon said.

Public schools were previously scheduled to open Aug. 3.