No announcement yet.

Maury schools blame absences on swine flu

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Maury schools blame absences on swine flu

    Maury schools blame absences on swine flu
    The Tennessean Updated: 8/20/2009 7:37:40 AM
    Posted: 8/20/2009 7:34:40 AM

    By Christina E. Sanchez, The Tennessean

    Maury County is the first Middle Tennessee district to fill health officials' prediction that H1N1 virus cases would surge with the start of school.

    Classes began there Aug. 3, and nearly 9 percent of the district's 11,400 students have been absent this week, with most of them concentrated in Cox and Whitthorne middle schools. More than a quarter of Cox's 800 students were absent on Monday.

    District leaders are blaming H1N1 - initially dubbed "swine flu" - for the absences, along with respiratory infections and stomach viruses. But there's been no talk of closing schools to stop the spread. Schools Director Eddie Hickman said those conversations would begin once the absentee rate hits 10 percent to 12 percent.

    "We are required to have 180 days of school," he said. "If we close school now, what happens if it gets worse in three weeks? Plus, kids will just end up at the mall or go to the picture show."

    The tight quarters in hallways, classrooms and locker rooms plus children not versed in good hygiene will fuel the H1N1 epidemic, Tennessee health officials said during the state's initial spring outbreak. While Maury may be the first to show a spike, other districts know the problem is heading their way.

    Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson, Metro Nashville and Williamson county school districts all reported no increase in absences, though most started school much later than Maury. Metro classes began Friday.

    H1N1 hard to identify

    Donna Lawson, school nurse coordinator for Wilson County, said she checks the absence reports daily and noticed a few H1N1 cases.

    "We are assessing every day," Lawson said. "Most important - we are reminding parents that if your child is sick with flu-like symptoms and has a fever, keep them home."

    Rutherford is reporting six confirmed H1N1 cases out of 37,000 students.

    It's tough for doctors to know when a child comes in with flu-like symptoms whether it's actually H1N1. The symptoms mirror seasonal flu - headache, fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, runny nose and fatigue.

    State health officials caution people not to assume what illness their child has.

    "There is a rapid test that doctors can use to tell whether patients have the flu," said Shelley Walker, Tennessee Department of Health spokeswoman. "The CDC came out with information that, while the test can tell you that you have the flu, it is not accurate in determining what type of flu."

    The state has stopped tracking every swine flu case and logs only the cases that require hospitalization or cause death now that the virus has become a pandemic. Most cases are considered mild and not life threatening. Tennessee has counted one swine-flu-related death.

    Doctors are not required to perform the comprehensive H1N1 test, which is being reserved for the at-risk groups that include pregnant women, infants, elderly people and people with compromised immune systems.

    Caution is urged

    Walker said school districts are told to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for swine flu. Schools should extensively clean bathrooms and locker rooms, send sick children home and offer hygiene classes. Students should be kept home until 24 hours after their fevers break.

    Maury County parent Tina Windham has kept her 8-year-old daughter home from Melvin Wright Elementary School since Friday, when her family doctor diagnosed the girl with seasonal flu. Her 4-year-old son also is sick.

    "I called to let the school know about it even though it wasn't the swine flu because I know there may be kids who are more at risk," Windham said.

    Dr. Christina Lohse, a pediatrician at Centennial Pediatrics in Spring Hill, said her office has seen eight cases of suspected swine flu in several Maury County children in one week.

    She has not seen any severe cases, though she tells parents to watch for symptoms that don't go away or get worse.

    "They have been back to school already for two weeks. They are in such close proximity, and that can make it spread," she said. "Now that school is back in, we're likely seeing a second wave."

  • #2
    Re: Maury schools blame absences on swine flu


    Maury County High School Football Team Hit with H1N1 Flu-John Dunn

    FOX 17 News " By: John Dunn

    "We're on a roller coast ride and where it peaks and when it peaks we do not know," says Maury County Director of School Eddie Hickman.

    Its only August, but one Mid-State school system is already fighting the flu.

    Hundreds of students in Maury County may be infected with the H1N1 virus.

    Nearly 1,000 students were absent from classes on Thursday, and the Director of Schools sees no end in sight.

    Maury Countys Middle Schools are the hardest hit, and local doctors offices cant keep up with the calls.

    Shatara Cooper says she has never felt like this.

    "I had a fever and my stomach was hurting," says 8th grader Shatara Cooper.

    The 13 year old 8th grader has been home from school all week.

    The doctor diagnosed here with so-called swine flu.

    "Most of my friends, they got it. They're sick too. They're at home," says Shatara Cooper.

    Half the football team at Shataras school, Whittorne Middle, has also been bit by the bug.

    It even forced the cancellation of a game.

    "This could go on for several months. It could jump from one school to the other," says Eddie Hickman.

    Maury Countys Director of Schools has been reviewing the attendance numbers.

    About 8% of the districts students are staying home to get well.

    That is nearly double the normal amount of kids out of class.

    Cox Middle School has been hit the hardest.

    Earlier this week about one-fourth of the students were absent.

    Some have raised questions about when and if it is necessary to cancel classes.

    It is a decision Eddie Hickman now wrestles with.

    "Until we get about 12-15% then my concern will be whether or not to close schools," says Eddie Hickman.

    The flu outbreak shows no signs of weakening.

    Local pediatricians say August used to be a quiet month.

    "Very busy, busier than what we're used to at this time of the year," says Dr. Carol Broadway.

    The Columbia Pediatric Clinic has seen more than 80 suspected swine flu cases in the past two weeks.

    Thursday afternoon, all appointments were taken.

    "It appears to be the H1N1 virus is what we're seeing so," says Dr. Carol Broadway.

    Shatara Cooper says thanks to Tamiflu and a lot of rest, she is finally starting to feel better.

    She hopes to return to school on Friday.

    Meanwhile Maury Countys Director of Schools hopes for a vaccine soon.

    I wished it was ready now. The sooner the better, says Eddie Hickman.

    The Director of School says once a vaccine becomes available, he will encourage every Maury student to get the shot.

    In the meantime, he is hoping students will get the normal seasonal flu vaccine.Maury County High School Football Team Hit with H1N1 Flu-John Dunn

    Posted: Thursday, August 20 2009, 08:35 PM CDT


    • #3
      Re: Maury schools blame absences on swine flu

      Maury County High School is in Columbia, TN - approx 50 miles south of Nashville
      "In the beginning of change, the patriot is a scarce man (or woman, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for it then costs nothing to be a patriot."- Mark TwainReason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Thomas Paine