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U.S. No Longer Advising Swine Flu School Closures

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U.S. health officials are no longer recommending that schools close because of swine flu.

The government last week advised schools to shut down for about two weeks if there were suspected cases of swine flu. Hundreds of schools around the country have followed that guidance and closed schools.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that the swine flu virus had turned out to be milder than initially feared. She says the government is changing its advice on closing schools.

Sebelius says parents should still make sure to keep sick children at home. Those with flulike symptoms should stay home for seven days.

More than 700 schools in 24 states and the District of Columbia were closed Tuesday for flu-related reasons, affecting approximately 468,000 students, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States stood at 476, with hundreds more suspected cases.

NPR staff and wire services contributed to this report.