20090824 h1n1 swine flu 18
Health and Human Services Department Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shows a child from the HHS daycare how to wash his hands in Washington, D.C. to encourage families and children to take steps to protect themselves from the H1N1 influenza virus. - 


Steve Chiotakis: The new school year is getting underway.
But as students come through the doors, there's a big question about how schools will deal with H1N1, the virus otherwise known as swine flu.
School systems are already strapped. And their budgets could likely feel the pain. Reporter Joel Rose has more.

Joel Rose: The Palm Springs Unified School District in California is hoping to avoid a replay of last year, when it had to close one school for three days because of a swine flu outbreak. The district is spending more than $100,000 to put hand sanitizer in every room. With 24,000 students...

Joan Boiko: That's not a cheap venture you know, in a year where the budget has already been decimated.

But communications manager Joan Boiko says an outbreak could cost the district a lot more than that. California is one of the states that pays schools based on average daily attendance. For every student who misses school, Boiko says the district stands to lose about $30.

Boiko: So multiply that out and you're talking about a whole lotta money.

Schools can apply for a special waiver to avoid the penalty if they're forced to close, or if more than 10 percent of their students are out sick.

I'm Joel Rose for Marketplace.