BUCKHANNON – On Tuesday, cases of influenza, colds and other bugs were widespread throughout Upshur County, leaving county schools with many student and staff absences.
Upshur County Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus confirmed there were 114 student absences Tuesday at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
“Those who were absent Tuesday do not need to present doctor excuses,” Stankus said Tuesday evening.
Stankus said there was a flier the schools sent home with students to help parents and guardians decide if their students should stay home from school. The flier reminds folks that school attendance is important and said the decision to keep students at home is often difficult, adding that if children are well enough to go outside and play, then they are likely well enough to attend school.
But the flier also reminds parents and guardians when students are better off staying home from school, including those who have the following symptoms:
- Anyone with a temperature greater than 100 degrees without medication
- Anyone with an excessive cough
Here’s when it’s OK to return to school:
- Anyone diagnosed by a doctor with strep throat may return to school 24 hours after their first dose of antibiotics.
- Any student with vomiting may return to school 24 hours following their last vomiting episode.
- Those with diarrhea should stay home until the episodes cease.
- Those diagnosed by a doctor with the flu may return to school when they are symptom-free for 24 hours without medication.
- Those diagnosed by a doctor with pink eye may return to school 24 hours after the first dose of medication and when there is no drainage present.
“We just want parents to use their best judgment when it comes to their children,” Stankus explained. “We honor that. If they believe they need to keep their child home, we can excuse that especially during the flu epidemic.”
Stankus said on Tuesday, there were many teacher and staff absences as well.
“There were seven unfilled positions countywide,” she said. “When there is an ‘uncovered’ position, those are really never ‘uncovered.’ Another teacher in the school or administration steps in to fill in those classrooms.”
Stankus said in instances were there are no more substitute teachers available, other teachers in the schools give up their planning periods to teach in those classrooms.
“Those who give up their planning periods are paid for giving up their planning periods,” she said. “This situation is very unusual and doesn’t happen that often.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the flu is considered ‘widespread’ across every state in the U.S. The website says most influenza cases reported lately in West Virginia have been Influenza type B but also says cases of Influenza type A are increasing.
The CDC website recommends those at least 6 months old and older receive a flu shot and said the vaccinations are still available at many places.
Everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs the CDC recommends include:
- Trying to avoid close contact with sick individuals
- While sick, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them
- Those with flu-like symptoms should stay home at least 24 hours after their fever is gone
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and after using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to keep from spreading germs
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with flu germs.