By Jamie Folsom and Laurie Hindman
The Thompson School District is reporting single digit increases in the absentee rates overall, with Berthoud High School running at 7 to 9 percent as of Friday, Sept. 25.
TSD spokesperson Wes Fothergill said the district it looking at a very low increase in rates typical for this time of year at 1 to 2 percent. However, he noted that number may not reflect the actual flu rate, since the numbers are based on absence calls from parents who indicated their student had “flu-like symptoms.”
Fothergill also noted Berthoud High School is one of two schools (with Monroe Elementary in Loveland) reporting very high rates. BHS Principal Chris Garcia said, “We’ve had a significant number of kids staying home sick, much more than this time last year.”
“Usually we start seeing the numbers increasing in November and December,” said Turner Middle School spokesperson Debbie Barnett. She said staff are emphasizing hand washing, proper coughing and sneezing (into arm and not into hands), and have made hand wipes/sanitizer readily available.
Ivy Stockwell Principal Rhonda Richer said that although numbers are up slightly from last year, they “have not been hit hard yet.” What has been more significant, Richer noted, is that kids are out longer. And, she said, “That is the sensible response.”
Garcia added that in the past schools may have encouraged kids who didn’t feel well to “hang in there and make it through the day,” now they are encouraging them to call their parents and go home until they are well.
BHS and other Berthoud schools are following the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that students who have been out with a fever of 100 degrees or higher stay home an additional 24 hours after the fever is gone.
Once back in school, accommodations are made for make-up work. “Our teachers are working with these kids to help them get caught up,” Garcia said.
With the official state schools student count set for today, the impact of the early flu season may extend into funding for schools like Berthoud High and Monroe.
Get the Facts: State Flu Reports Online
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is reporting numbers of hospitalized 2009 influenza cases. This is consistent with the Department’s past reporting of seasonal influenza cases. The public can find the most current 2009 influenza hospitalization case data, by county, on the department’s Web site each Wednesday at www.CDPHE.state.co.us/dc/Influenza/index.html.
Starting Oct. 7, the CDPHE will begin reporting influenza deaths by age range. Consistent with state law regarding patient confidentiality — and in consideration of the privacy of family members — they will not be providing specific information about individual cases (e.g. gender, age, county of residence, date of death).