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Breaking: Swine-Flu Scare Shuts Day School

Manhattan’s Ramaz closes for middle schoolers

Ari M. Brostoff
June 18, 2009

Probable cases of swine flu have hit the middle school division of Ramaz, one of New York City’s most prestigious Jewish day schools. After eight students reported confirmed cases of influenza last week—which, school administrator Ken Rochlin said, means that they likely have the H1N1 virus with the treyf nickname—the middle school postponed its graduation, which had been scheduled for Monday, June 15. An announcement the school sent to parents on Monday morning said that “while an advancement is indeed a milestone that is eagerly anticipated and well-deserved for all who attend, this is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh, where we make the saving of human life paramount.”

School was also cancelled for the school’s fifth, sixth, and seventh graders (whose classes extend beyond the eighth graders’ graduation date) yesterday and today, which Rochlin said was only a precaution. “It wasn’t at the point where we would have been required to close,” he said.

Eighth grader Becky Shams, whose last day of school was Monday, reported that students had been at school that day but “no one feels their best, everyone feels kind of achy.” Students want to get finals over with, she said, “so you just don’t tell the school that you don’t feel well. People are just sneaking into school.” (The school will allow students to complete exams later, she said.) Shams said she is feeling okay, but several of her friends have suspected cases of swine flu, and her younger sister and older brother, both Ramaz students, have been home with stomach aches.

Shams said she doubted graduation would be further delayed—it’s now set for Monday, June 22—as many kids are about to start summer camp. Let’s hope they’re not going to Camp Newman-Swig.

Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.