Schools respond to increased flu

February 01, 2018 07:12 PM

BERNE - The students at Berne-Knox-Westerlo Elementary keep the custodians busy all day long, five days a week.  And this flu season, they've added weekends to their repertoire. Since MLK Day, staff has also been sanitizing Saturdays and Sundays -- paying extra attention to high traffic and germy areas - like railings, door handles and water fountains - in order to prevent the virus from spreading even more.

"They have a system they do regularly but they've been diligent in different areas and cleaning more than usual," explains principal Annette Landry.

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New wall hand sanitizers were also added.  And wipes are aplenty in the elementary school.  Plus, flu kits were  distributed to families.  And all of it, combined, seems to be working. The forty absences the school reported a week ago have been cut in half this week.

"What we're seeing is, they are not out for one day.  They are out for a week so they are losing a lot of instruction time," adds Landry.

Little kids aren't the only ones suffering.  RPI has had close to 40 confirmed flu cases since last Wednesday, but medical staff there believes the number is actually quite higher.  If students suspect they have the flu, they're asked to avoid the regular health center all together and they're treated in a separate area to avoid infecting more people.

"It hasn't peaked yet this year.  We don't know how much more we will see this year," notes RPI's Health Center Director, Dr. Les Lawrence.

RPI hasn't seen this many cases since 2009 - when H1N1 was rampant.  Students who are diagnosed are being asked to self-quarantine - a precaution the school believes students are happy to take.

"Our students believe in studies, data, statistics," explained Dr. Lawrence.

RPI was told there was a shortage of anti-viral medication, so health center staff are only prescribing medicine like Tami-Flu, to high risk patients.


Abigail Bleck

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