Archive for Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Flu bug making the rounds

January 29, 2003

During a recent one-week period, the number of students absent from Basehor-Linwood schools due to illness was as high as any in recent memory.

"I think it was," said Cathy Barger, school district health coordinator. "We've had more absences than ever before. It's just the flu season and you have to deal with it."

That one-week stretch -- Jan. 13 to 17 -- saw more than 200 students in the school district stay home with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

During that week, schools reported some of their largest ever one-day absentee rates.

"That was the week we were hit the hardest," Barger said.

The number of students home sick was especially high at the elementary schools, where one day totals included:

  • 83 students, or 21 percent at Basehor Elementary School.
  • 50 students, or 16 percent at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School.
  • 61 students, or 33 percent at Linwood Elementary School.

The flu bug was getting so bad that classrooms at Basehor and Glenwood Ridge elementary were sprayed with disinfectant to cut down on germs, Barger said.

Other schools weren't immune to the flu bug either. Basehor-Linwood Middle School reported high absentee rates and at Basehor-Linwood High School, officials reported daily figures of 19 to 21 percent of the overall student population missing school.

What's known as the flu season typically begins in November and has run its course by the end of February, Barger said.

But when the flu season begins, there isn't a lot parents can do to keep children from catching the bug, Barger said.

"The best and really the only thing you can do to prevent (the flu) is wash your hands and keep them away from your face," she said.

And although students are still complaining of and staying home with flu symptoms, the tides have turned for the healthier as of late.

Numbers are down and there are less empty chairs in classrooms.

"There is still a high rate but its probably about half what it was before," Barger said. "Hopefully the cold weather we've had froze some of the bugs that were out there."

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