Schools’ approach to flu varies

Greenfield schools closed Thursday and Friday

By McKenzie Caldwell - [email protected]

While Greenfield this week became the first school district to cancel classes for the second time recntly due to illness-related absences, Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis told The Times-Gazette Hillsboro hasn’t canceled classes yet because the number of absences has been inconsistent.

“The reason we haven’t closed is that [illness-related absences] have been sporadic,” Davis said. “Some of our percentages, like in our elementary, haven’t reached over 21 percent of students absent. When you look at it that way, it may seem like a lot, but we have almost 80 percent of our kids who are here.”

Hillsboro has considered closing, though.

“We’ve been thinking about the possibility of closing due to the amount of sickness in our staff and the lack of substitutes we have because they are sick as well,” Davis said Friday. “I believe other schools have closed because of their staff illnesses. We just haven’t had to do that yet because our numbers haven’t been there consistently. Last Wednesday, we had a bad day; Thursday we were covered, and then today we had a snow day due to the weather.”

Davis said that 14 percent of elementary students were absent on Thursday.

“The worst day was last Friday when we had about 20 to 25 percent of our students out. We just haven’t had those numbers consistently for multiple days in a row,” Davis said. “As we’ve seen, it’s worked its way in pockets through our district. In the beginning, our elementary was hit really hard — up around 18, 19 percent — and our middle school and high school weren’t that bad. As we went through, the elementary was getting better, and the middle school and high school were getting worse. We’re seeing pockets inconsistently. As the entire district, we haven’t hit those numbers all at the same time. The same thing with staff.”

Not only are there two strains of the flu “floating” through Hillsboro schools, but Davis said they’ve also seen strep and a stomach virus.

“There are three or four things circulating,” Davis said. “We’re working very hard to sanitize the rooms and keep everything as clean as possible. We just encourage parents to keep their kids home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, so we can continue to try to beat this flu season.”

Davis said custodians have been working to sanitize the school, and school nurses have been working to educate teachers, so the teachers can help inform students about good hygiene practices for this time of year.

The Greenfield Exempted Village School District (GEVSD) announced in a Wednesday Facebook post that classes would be canceled Thursday and Friday for the second time this flu season due to illness-related absences.

“During the past few weeks, we have continued to monitor our student attendance daily. Our main campus has continued to improve, but our outlying elementary buildings whose attendance was good when we closed previously, has progressively worsened this week to absence percentages much higher than were experienced on the main campus before,” the post said.

GEVSD Superintendent Quincey Gray told The Times-Gazette that 30 percent of students in an outlying elementary were absent last week.

Extracurricular activities weren’t closed, though the post warned that students who are ill would not be permitted to participate if they came to events.

GEVSD closed last month due to illness-related absences and canceled extracurricular activities for Jan. 24 through Jan. 26.

On Jan. 17, Fairfield Local Schools closed after 20 percent of their elementary students were absent.

In surrounding counties, Washington Court House, Miami Trace, Chillicothe and Adena schools have also closed in the last month due to illness-related absences.

In a recent interview, Highland County Health Department Emergency Response Coordinator Brittane Dance encouraged community members to call the health department if they still need their flu vaccines.

“The flu’s still out there,” Dance said. “Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough. If you’re sick, stay home from work. If your children are sick, keep them home from school.”

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570. photo
Greenfield schools closed Thursday and Friday

By McKenzie Caldwell

[email protected]