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Nolan bill would allow aid for swine flu schools

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Queens public schools that lost class time due to the swine flu pandemic were one step closer to not being penalized after a bill passed the state Assembly Monday.

Under state law, schools are eligible for state aid only if they have a total of 180 school days throughout the school year, according to Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood). The bill, A08710, which Nolan sponsored, would authorize the state education commissioner to disregard the rule for any school that was closed down due to H1N1 virus concerns.

“Those schools must not be penalized for making the difficult decision to close,” Nolan said in a statement.

The bill is now awaiting a vote in the deadlocked state Senate.

During the months of April and May, 29 public schools in Queens were shuttered after several students reported large numbers of students with flu-like symptoms. As of Friday, 748 New Yorkers had been hospitalized and the virus had killed 30 people in the city, according to the city Health Department.

The first swine flu death in the city was IS 238 Assistant Principal Mitchell Wiener. A vaccine for the virus is in the works, according to two pharmaceutical companies.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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