More than 150 of the 507 students at William H. Hunter Elementary School, in North Philadelphia, took a sick day yesterday after two of their classmates tested positive for swine flu.
It wasn't clear how many students were actually sick or, instead, kept away from the school as a precaution.
Antoine DuBose, the father of a Hunter student, said that he would probably keep his child home from school today, two days after the city Health Department announced that the first Philadelphian had died from the disease.
"I don't feel that it's safe, especially since we're talking about kids," DuBose said.
Schools spokesman Fernando Gallard said that the district hasn't considered closing the school, on Front Street near Kensington Avenue.
Instead, he said, the district will continue to encourage parents to keep sick children home.
Vanessa Bines, who kept two of her children home yesterday with flu-like symptoms, said that she thinks that the school should be closed and disinfected.
Johanna Ransom, who kept her daughter home one day last week with flu symptoms, disagreed.
"There's no reason to close the school - one of them got sick, but the other two are fine," Ransom said of her three Hunter Elementary students.
According to guidelines set by the city's Division of Disease Control, closing schools won't help. The guidelines state:"The closing of schools where there are children who have influenza has not been proven to stop the spread of the flu, particularly in densely populated urban areas where children are likely to interact with each other outside of school."
Still, many parents are worried that the illness will spread.
"My kids will be home until September," said Tracey McKnight, whose daughters, one in pre-kindergarten and the other a first- grader, are enrolled at the school.
"They have asthma," she said. "If they got [the flu] that would be it."
Gallard said that a letter was sent home to parents advising them of the situation last week. Another letter was sent out yesterday encouraging parents to attend one of two information sessions at the school.