Flu bug bites schoolsIt’s being talked about at coffee shops, card clubs, church groups, day cares, between family members, in schools, on the news, over the radio and in the newspaper.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
It’s being talked about at coffee shops, card clubs, church groups, day cares, between family members, in schools, on the news, over the radio and in the newspaper.
It’s the flu. And this year, it’s biting harder than it has in years.
Although it is not mandated, school districts across the state have now been asked to report cases of influenza-like illnesses to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
According to Douglas County Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs, if schools hit a certain threshold, they are asked to report it to the state.
Additionally, on the local level, Tubbs said she has made a request that schools also report it to public health, as long as schools are already reporting it to the state.
That threshold, said Tubbs, is if a school has three or more elementary students absent from one classroom at any particular school who have influenza-like symptoms or if there is 5 percent of the total enrollment per building out with influenza-like symptoms.
She stressed that schools have not been asked to report on a daily basis, but instead, they are to report when they have a spike in the number of absences.
“I would be surprised if schools haven’t been hitting the threshold,” said Tubbs. “The flu spreads fast.”
Tubbs said public health officials and school administrators have been meeting for quite some time about this year’s flu season, preparing and planning for it.
Alexandria School District 206 Superintendent Terry Quist said that there have been a few confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Alexandria schools and that there have been “a number of students out with influenza-like symptoms.” He declined to provide a specific number.
The Alexandria School District isn’t the only one with high numbers of student absences.
The Osakis Pubic Schools have also had plenty of students out sick.
On Monday morning, the Osakis School District had at least 75 students – just at the elementary level – who were out with influenza-like symptoms, according to Angie Baker, the school nurse.
She said they have had numbers in the low 100s for both the elementary and high school combined.
On both the Alexandria School District and the Osakis School District websites, parents can find information about the H1N1 flu.
Parents are urged to keep their children home until at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever – without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Keeping sick students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others, according to information found on School District 206’s website.
And public health officials and school officials can’t stress enough the importance of frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes – not just for students, but for everyone.