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Flu causing school absences

Published 1:31pm Monday, December 10, 2012

The recent, warm weather has seemed more indicative of a summer cold than winter’s dreaded visitor, the flu. However, the flu season already is active for students in Madison City Schools.

(Photo contributed)

Alabama and other southeastern states have been hard hit. Westminster Christian Academy closed last week due to excessive absences due to illness.

“We are starting to receive confirmed cases of the flu in our schools,” superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said in system-wide email on Dec. 6. “Luckily, the percentage of students ill has not been to the point of considering a closure. Let’s all hope that our percentages stay low.”

Nurses in Madison City Schools compiled guidelines to follow, based on information from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). Common symptoms of flu include a fever of 100 degrees and higher, although some individual don’t have a fever; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; headaches; body aches; chills; fatigue; and nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Children with these symptoms should stay home until the symptoms end for 24 hours without medication. The nurse at each Madison school can answer questions, Fowler said.

Principal Melanie J. Barkley said the situation at Mill Creek Elementary hasn’t changed drastically since last week. “We have approximately four teachers out now as well. We have approximately 43 students out; I don’t know if it is all flu-related, but that is high for us,” she said.

“Also, the nurse has seen about 25 students (by noon) today for flu-like symptoms,” Barkley said. “It’s just that time of year.”

Principal Dorinda White at Rainbow Elementary School also issued email to parents, reminding them about the district’s policy for keeping a child home from school. A child should stay home for these conditions: 100 degree fever or higher;¬∑vomiting or diarrhea within the last eight hours; productive cough; rashes; conjunctivitis (pink eye); and strep throat.

“Remember the best way to prevent illness is to encourage consistent hand-washing, proper rest and a healthy diet,” White said.

For more information, visit flu.gov/symptoms.

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