Schools prep for flu season
By Logan Watson
Flu season is upon us, and no one gets hit harder by the yearly plague than kids and those that come in close contact with them.
According to the CDC, flu season usually peaks around February. The number of cases in Milan and Medina have been slowly creeping upward, but local school officials have not reported any serious epidemics spreading through the halls.
According to MSSD Director of Schools Jonathan Criswell, reported cases of the flu in Milan schools have been sporadic.
“I was speaking to some of my East Tennessee counterparts recently, and they have been hit hard,” he said. “They have been seeing the rotavirus and the flu.” The illnesses have caused serious problems with school districts in Clay, Macon, Stewart and Van Buren counties, forcing schools to close their doors, but thankfully, Gibson County has not reached that point.
“Our attendance right now is at about 94 percent,” said Director Criswell. “We have some people that are sick, but nothing too serious.”
“We’ve had more students out than usual, but it hasn’t been a significant increase,” said Medina Middle School Principal Steve Maloan. Medina Elementary School has also had an increased number of absences, but not all are specifically linked to the flu.
“We generally don’t do anything until the number of absences gets to around 20 percent,” said MES Principal Billy Carey.”
Dr. Peter Gardner of Physicians Quality Care stated that approximately 50 to 75 people per day that visit the PQC Clinic in Milan are there for flu or flu-like symptoms. Dr. Gardner did state that these patients were predominantly older adults, but several Gibson County school systems are beginning to keep track of the amount of flu diagnoses among their students and faculty.
According to Gibson County Special School District Superintendent Eddie Pruett, Spring Hill Middle School was closed last Friday due to an absentee rate of 25 percent due to illness. Pruett stated that the amount of illness there was an aberration, and isn’t expected to reflect a pattern of illness spreading throughout the GCSSD.
While there is currently no elevated risk of your young’uns coming home from school with the dreaded virus, it is always a good idea to take precautions during this time of year. Have your children wash their hands regularly and stay away from other students that are coughing or blowing their noses excessively. Children can infect others before they ever begin to show symptoms and for longer than seven days after becoming sick, so if you child shows any signs of influenza, such as fever/chills, body aches, sore throats or vomiting/diarrhea, make sure to keep them at home.
MSSD Director of Pupil Services Marilyn Goodman stated that there will be a district-wide safety meeting on Friday, February 17 to address guidelines to eliminate the spread of illnesses so that influenza and other viruses don’t reach epidemic levels.