“There’s a number of different things going around. Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, it’s swine flu,’ and part of that may be, but we’ve got strep, we’ve got sinus infections, there’s just a lot right now. If we can take an extra day and keep kids from spreading ... that’s why we wanted to extend the weekend. We were just trying to give the kids a shot,” Staggs said.
Staggs said Oak Intermediate School has reported sicknesses, but less than Stanton; and Glenwood High School has fewer still. Attendance in those buildings are holding normal, he said.
The sicknesses aren’t just students, either. Some staff members have reported illnesses also.
“We could easily operate. It’s not a majority of staff or anything like that,” he said.
The district met with Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams last week and were advised that he expected increased illnesses reported throughout the fall and winter. Staggs said the district is doing all it can to promote healthy habits to all its students.
“We have an outstanding nurse, Anita Daehler, who’s addressed every class. We’ve sent stuff home on precautions, and we’re going to continue to do more on our Web site as we develop our Web site,” he said.
Custodians at New Boston school are taking added measures also, disinfecting and sanitizing the buildings whenever possible.
Across the county, Superintendent Eugene Thomas said attendance at Valley schools is up this week over last.
“We’re seeing a decline in absences, and hopefully that holds true for the rest of the flu season,” Thomas said. “We’ve tracked it the past three weeks and it’s gone from over 200 to below 200 to now around 100 absent.”
He said there are about 1,200 kids in the district, and the school won’t consider closing until absences reach 30 percent.
“We also look at the type of virus going around and would stay very close in touch with the rest of the county superintendents and health department,” Thomas said. “At this time we have no plans of closing any buildings.”
Some people in the community have said schools should be closed for a month to give students time to get the H1N1 vaccine. Staggs explained why he doesn’t believe that’s a good idea.
“As much as we’re doing to combat the spread of this, things that occur outside the school are just as much to blame as things that occur inside the school. Maybe even going into a store. If you go into (a grocery store) and you’re talking to someone and they sneeze ... I mean, there’s no way to keep from avoiding it. So why close schools and put that pressure on working parents?” he said.
Flu-like symptoms affecting students and staff moved officials in the Greenup County and Russell Independent school districts in Kentucky to also close schools on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Both schools were closed the remainder of last week.
Daily attendance at Greenup had dropped to 85 percent in the rural seven-school district, which has about 3,060 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grades. Attendance at Russell Independent reportedly dropped 82 percent.
Scarlet Shoemaker, spokesperson for the Greenup district, said those people sick with flu-like conditions were diagnosed as having the regular seasonal flu, not the H1N1 virus.
Students at both Greenup and Russell Independent were back in school Monday. New Boston is expected to resume classes at Stanton Primary today.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail email@example.com.