What Schools Did During the Spanish Flu Pandemic a Century Ago

Diane Ravitch's blog

CNN published a very good article about what happened to the schools and their students during the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1917-18. Many schools closed. Three large urban districts stayed open because officials believed that children were better off in schools than in their crowded tenements.

The striking point in the article is that the schools were well-supplied with nurses and doctors. The progressive reforms of the era had made schools a healthier place than many of the children’s homes. By contrast, about 25% of our schools today have no nurse, and even more have only a part-time nurse.

While the vast majority of cities closed their schools, three opted to keep them open — New York, Chicago and New Haven, according to historians.

The decisions of health officials in those cities was based largely on the hypothesis of public health officials that students were safer and better off…

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